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June 28, 2003 -- On July 4th, we celebrate the establishment of the United States of America by our Founding Fathers. Since 1776, America has become the freest, richest country that the world has ever known. One way to appreciate just what a blessing this country is to each of us is to reflect upon what the world would be like if America had lost the Revolution, if there were no America.
What if armed minutemen had not fought so valiantly at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill? What if Washington’s volunteers had been summer soldiers and sunshine patriots who could not endure the bitter winter at Valley Forge? What if Jefferson had never penned the Declaration of Independence, or if his words had been lost in the face of a British victory?
The key to America is the idea of liberty articulated in the Declaration, that all men are created equal and endowed “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
Without that ringing affirmation of individualism, perhaps many of the colonists—in moral confusion—would not have fought for their freedom. Without Jefferson’s crystallizing words, the colonists might not have seen the future of opportunity that a victory would bring.
Without an American victory, the political map of the world would have been sadly different. Perhaps the colonists in British America would have remained a few million confined to the eastern seaboard, with French, Spanish and Russian colonies occupying the rest of the continent. Without America, the subjects of the Great Powers of Europe might have wasted their time, energy, and blood fighting in the New World the types of wars that plagued the Old World.
But instead, in the two centuries and two score years of its history, the United States expanded from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and three million colonists became 280 million proud citizens who constructed homes and towns, planted crops, raised cattle, mined gold, silver and copper, established trading posts and ports, and built railroads, steel mills, factories, and great, gleaming cities.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.