Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Compiled by Ulli Diemer
July 4, 1776
Rebellious American colonists declare their independence from Britain. Their Declaration of Independence asserts the right and duty of a people to “alter or abolish” any government which is abusive and unjust.|
The Declaration states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator 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,
-- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
July 4, 1829
Speaking at Boston’s Park Street Church, newspaper editor and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison speaks on “Dangers to the Nation.” Garrison decries the hypocrisy of celebrating the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that “All men are created equal” while two million African Americans are in bondage. He proposes four propositions to guide the abolitionist movement:
1. Above all others, slaves in America deserve “the prayers, and sympathies, and charities of the American people.”
2. Non-slave-holding states are “constitutionally involved in the guilt of slavery,” and are obligated “to assist in its overthrow.”
3. There is no valid legal or religious justification for the preservation of slavery.
4. The “colored population” of America should be freed, given an education, and accepted as equal citizens with whites.