Today is the 4th of July, or “Independence Day” in America. Some people forget this is actually just a holiday in America, not the entire planet. Although, come to think of it, these days I bet Britain is also celebrating getting rid of us. I came very close to being a sesquicentennial baby (my birthday was on June 29th thanks for remembering about that super soaker I asked for oh WAIT you didn’t) as I was born in the year 1976.
Two-hundred years before my entrance into this crazy world, there were a bunch of colonists getting their pantaloons in a wad. See, Britain had paid a crapload of money to ship off people to colonize this great country that was technically already colonized by Native Americans, or “Indians” as Columbus brilliantly called them since he had the directional sense of a blind raccoon. My point is, Britain had invested lots of money in an overseas project and it was, as usual, costing a wee bit more than the government had figured it would. So they were like who else can we tax for this? We taxed the heck out of Britian already oh hey WAIT I have an idea!
So they taxed the tea they sent us. That’s right, our friggin’ TEA, people. Nevermind that we could have say, drank water; tea was our right as British citizens! The colonists didn’t want to pay the tax because we were not being represented properly in Britain. At least that sounded like a good reason not to pay taxes. If they had just allowed us to vote for people we had no clue about into office and stuff (like we do today!) we’d have been all happy and paid the tax. I’m sure of it. It’s not like people don’t like taxes or something.
So a bunch of guys (yes, guys, the women were busy washing their freaking pantaloons) got together and decided to dress up like “Indians” and dump a bunch of tea into the Boston harbor, thus beginning a long tradition of pollution. A little over two-hundred years later, another group of wackos would decide to call themselves the “Tea Party” in honor of the first people to dress up in weird costumes and pollute water in order to whine and moan about the government.
This annoyed the British (they wasted TEA dangit!) so they decided to put naughty Massachusetts under the charge of the British army. That would keep them in line. I mean there’s no way they’d still be stockpiling weapons or anything oh WAIT. So the British army confronted some local colonial militia and traded bullets. This was the “shot heard round the world” by people with incredibly good hearing. The British also didn’t like that we’d kinda made our own government too, called the Continental Congress, so they called us traitors to the crown and said now we were really totally grounded, like forever. We didn’t like that, so we decided we’d be our own nation. Suck it, mom and dad – I mean, Britain!
This “Declaration of Independence” happened on July 4, 1776 which is what we’re celebrating, not actually winning our independence from Britain. That would come in 1783 when the British finally said oh heck with it and went back to their tiny, rainy country. In between, there was a lot of bloody fighting, and we Americans love to tell the story about how our ragtag bunch of farmers defeated one of the major superpowers of the world. We’re so proud of our history that some people actually believe that July 4th is when we won independence, not when we declared it. We would also use this declaration, and the constitution and bill of rights that came after it, in practically every argument we would ever have again ever. Even if the argument is about mayonnaise.
- An ocean. We didn’t have to cross it just to go fight them.
- France. Their entering the war on our side was one big “nanner, nanner” to Britain.
- The British fought like civilized people, marching in line with bright red “I’m a target” uniforms, thus allowing us uncivilized colonists to hide in the bushes and pick them off like ducks in a barrel.
- Scurvy. The British Navy suffered great losses because they weren’t given FRUIT.
- Meanwhile, the allies of the French (Spain and the Dutch Republic) were battering Britain back home. Maybe they shouldn’t have ticked off so many other countries first . . .
That’s not all, but I’m tired so I’ll stop there. This is a day that we Americans celebrate the creation of our country. But we should also remember that we didn’t do it alone. Without Britian, many colonists wouldn’t have been here to begin with, and without the support of France, Spain, the Dutch, and many others, we probably wouldn’t have won that war. It also wasn’t independence for everyone – that would come much later for the black men and women we kept as slaves and the women of all colors whose voices we silenced. And it would come at the cost of the independence of the Native Americans.
So today we celebrate by waving our flags and being all patriotic. There will be fireworks, and parades, and barbecues, and probably more than one beer, firework, and barbecue related accident. It’s the American way.