On this day in 1776 US congress proclaimed the Declaration of Independence from Britain.
There is not much more about this event that hasn’t already been said. Post-Columbian America only has five hundred odd years of history. However, it doesn’t seem to worry Americans. Whatever sense of national identity they lack compared to say, Egypt (at least five thousand years of history) they make up for in energy and imagination. It must have taken courage on that day to defy one of the then greatest countries in the world by signing the Declaration. As Benjamin Franklin said to his fifty-five co-signatories: “we must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.”
Today’s poem is by Englishman George Crabbe who lived at the time of the War of Independence, Late Wisdom:
We’ve trod the maze of error round,
Long wandering in the winding glade;
And now the torch of truth is found,
It only shows us where we strayed:
By long experience taught, we know—
Can rightly judge of friends and foes;
Can all the worth of these allow,
And all the faults discern in those.
Now, ’tis our boast that we can quell
The wildest passions in their rage,
Can their destructive force repel,
And their impetuous wrath assuage.—
Ah, Virtue! Dost thou arm when now
This bold rebellious race are fled?
When all these tyrants rest, and thou
Art warring with the mighty dead?
Today I ask for the courage to change the things I can.