by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Today, prominent voices are asserting, with a straight face, that America’s birth and life have been nothing but a celebration of slavery and racism. Today, violent mobs are indiscriminately tearing down statues of the Founding Fathers — and just about any other statue, for that matter, indiscriminately.
This is why it has never been more important than it is now to celebrate the miracle of the nation’s founding.
This isn’t to say that the founders were perfect or that there weren’t dark chapters in our history. But those aspects, which shouldn’t be hidden, should not make us shy away from honoring the great events set in motion by the Declaration of Independence 244 years ago this weekend.
Many take for granted the founding of the United States. But in truth, there was nothing inevitable about victory in the Revolution, let alone an orderly government emerging afterward and enduring into its third century. At the time of the Revolution, the idea of hereditary rule had endured for thousands of years. Republican governments were rare indeed, as were precedents for their success.
There were many opportunities for events to spiral out of control and descend into an orgy of violence and murder. The American Revolution could have become the French Revolution, with its 16,000 guillotined in nine months, according to historian William Doyle.
But America was blessed with a unique mix of leaders whose significant talents complemented each other well. They had the courage to defy their king, to make war against the most powerful country in the world, and to undertake a radical experiment in self-government. Yet despite their boldness, they were also prudent about creating safeguards so that freedom didn’t rapidly descend into mob rule.