At 245, America Is Old Enough to Be Honest About Its Founding

The Declaration of Independence’s clause about “merciless Indian Savages” and its deleted passage on slavery say a lot about us.

An illustration by Udo Keppler, “The Triumph of the American Battle-ship,” depicts the celebration of the Fourth of July in 1898. Illustration: Universal Images Group via Getty

The Intercept: Happy Birthday, America! Today, July 4, 2021, we turn 245 years old. You might think we’d have trouble blowing out all the candles on the cake, but fortunately we can use the downdraft from the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, a new prototype attack helicopter with two rotors that spin in opposite directions.

And now that we’re 245, it seems as though we should be old enough to take an honest look at various dumb and awful things about our birth, and stop believing in preposterous myths.

While the American Revolution officially began at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts in April 1775, for some time afterward complete separation from Great Britain was only supported by a fervent minority. However, nothing works as well as killing and being killed to make everyone believe the other side are irredeemable monsters. By June 1776, public sentiment favored a total break.

The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, with edits by several others, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. It is Filled with The kind Of unpredictable Capitalization that was Common before English Was Standardized, and accuses King George III of attempting to impose both “absolute Despotism” and “absolute Tyranny” on the 13 Colonies. With the benefit of hindsight, many of the complaints make this seem like the kind of excitable language you employ to justify a decision you’ve already made. For instance, King George “called together legislative bodies at places unusual” for “the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance.” Bad, maybe, but not the worst crime in human history. This style of wild rhetorical exaggeration survives today among Americans who proclaim that the phaseout of incandescent lightbulbs is exactly like what Hitler did.  read more…

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  1. The USA was all about Manifest Destiny from the very beginning. That is the racist notion that Europeans were chosen by God to come to this continent, displace and murder the aboriginals, and steal their land. There’s no getting around it. If you need it explained to you, just ask any Native American.

  2. With the benefit of hindsight, the real complaints were about who stays with the profits….

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