Roots of freedom run deep

Published 5:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

On the very symbol of freedom in America, the Liberty Bell are inscribed the words of Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”
Our nation this very week celebrated this liberty!
In 1843, a 21-year-old Dartmouth student named Mellen Chamberlain was doing research on the American War for Independence.
He had the opportunity to interview a survivor of the initial battles of Lexington and Concord, 91-year-old Captain Levi Preston of Danvers.
The young scholar wanted to know the cause behind his involvement with the war.
The interview… “Captain Preston,” he asked, “what made you go to the Concord fight?”
“What did I go for?” the old man replied, subtly rephrasing the historian’s question to drain away its determinism.
The interviewer tried again, “. . . Were you oppressed by the Stamp Act?”
“I never saw any stamps,” Preston answered, “and I always understood that none were sold.”
“Well, what about the tea tax?”
“Tea tax? I never drank a drop of the stuff. The boys threw it all overboard.”
“I suppose you had been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?”
“I never heard of these men. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts’s Psalms, and hymns and the almanacs.”
“Well, then, what was the matter?”
“Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had been free, and we meant to be free always. They didn’t mean we should.”
I have personally watched people of all nationalities stand in line to enter the doors of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
They were all happily waiting to see—not a competition or a performance or a famous work of art—but simply a room with wooden tables and chairs.
As physically unremarkable as the room was, visitors reaching the end of the line were not disappointed.
Many wore expressions of joy and wonder because they knew what had happened in that room in a brick building on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.
Independence Hall is the place where America’s founding document was created 248 years ago.
Eleven years later, delegates meeting in the same room created the U.S. Constitution.
In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge came to Philadelphia to celebrate its 150th anniversary and said: “It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.”
I believe this to be true because our story as Americans is about Liberty and Self Governance. Either men and Kings Rule or God principles of governance are applied.
Here in the colonies… In 1636, the Rev. Thomas Hooker (along with the Revs. Samuel Stone, John Davenport, and Theophilus Eaton) founded Connecticut. They not only established an elective form of government but in a 1638 sermon based on Deuteronomy 1:13 and Exodus 18:21, the Rev. Hooker explained the three Biblical principles that had guided the plan of government in Connecticut: I. [T]he choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance. II. The privilege of election . . . belongs to the people . . . III. They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates [i.e., the people], it is in their power also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place. From the Rev. Hooker’s teachings and leadership sprang the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” – America’s first written constitution. As the first successful declaration of independence in history, it helped to inspire countless movements for independence, self-determination, and revolution after 1776 and to this very day.
Now, let’s remember the events of the week we celebrate… July 1, 1776, after John Dickenson’s lengthy speech against declaring independence John Adams rose to speak.
Thomas Jefferson would later say “His power of thought and expression moved us from our seats!”
Among John Adams’ remarks… “The object is great which we have in view, and we must expect a great expense of blood to obtain it. But we should always remember that a free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased at too dear a rate, as there is nothing on this side of Jerusalem of equal importance to mankind… objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of the world…”
It was said that it was the most powerful and important speech heard in the Congress since it first convened and the greatest speech of Adam’s life, there is no question!
What followed was the adoption of the Lee resolution… which declared the thirteen colonies free from Great Britain.
Bathed in prayer and Godly counsel from the beginning and followed by the miraculous events of the revolutionary war, America would become a nation and freedom would ring out in the land.
And the world would never be the same!

Tim Throckmorton is the national director of Family Resource Council’s Community Impact Teams.

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