Free and Independent States

It was on June 7 in 1776 that the idea of independence was first officially proposed in the Continental Congress. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced and John Adams seconded the following:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

The vote on the resolution was set aside until July 1st — it actually occurred on July 2nd. On June 11th Congress appointed the Committee of Five to draft a formal declaration of independence — John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

June 7: Resolution introduced
July 2: Resolution approved (12 colonies for; New York abstained, later voted for)
July 4: Declaration of Independence approved

On the Fourth of July we celebrate the birth announcement, not the birth.

Lee Resolution


Daniel Boone

… first looked west from Cumberland Gap into what is now Kentucky on this date in 1769. The Kentucky Historical Society celebrates June 7 as “Boone Day.”

Cumberland Gap

Boone was not the first person through Cumberland Gap; he wasn’t even the first European-American. He was, however, instrumental in blazing a trail, which became known as the Wilderness Road.

Cumberland Gap Trail

According to the National Park Service:

Immigration through the Gap began immediately, and by the end of the Revolutionary War some 12,000 persons had crossed into the new territory. By 1792 the population was over 100,000 and Kentucky was admitted to the Union.

During the 1790s traffic on the Wilderness Road increased. By 1800 almost 300,000 people had crossed the Gap going west. And each year as many head of livestock were driven east. As it had always been, the Gap was an important route of commerce and transportation.

NewMexiKen photos 2006.

First Wave at Omaha Beach

Unlike what happens to other great battles, the passing of the years and the retelling of the story have softened the horror of Omaha Beach on D Day.

. . .

In everything that has been written about Omaha until now, there is less blood and iron than in the original field notes covering any battalion landing in the first wave. Doubt it? Then let’s follow along with Able and Baker companies, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Their story is lifted from my fading Normandy notebook, which covers the landing of every Omaha company.

“First Wave at Omaha Beach” by S.L.A. Marshall


We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Eisenhower Message

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Tiananmen

The Chinese army crackdown on the protests in and around Tiananmen Square was 25 years ago today. According to estimates by the Chinese Red Cross (accepted at the time by the U.S. State Department) some 2,600 protesters and military were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

This declassified State Department cable (June 22, 1989) provides the account of a witness to the violence on the night of June 3-4. The students believed that the military would be firing rubber bullets. The witness tells that “he had a sickening feeling when he noticed the bullets striking sparks off the pavement near his feet.”

This second declassified cable provides an hour-by-hour chronology of the events of the night of June 3-4, 1989.

While difficult to read, these documents tell the story as American diplomats reported it.

Tiananmen

NewMexiKen took this photo in Tiananmen Square just three years after the events there. The building in the background is the Great Hall of the People. At left is the Monument of the People’s Heroes.


The 19th Amendment

SECTION 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Congress sent the 19th Amendment to the states for ratification on this date in 1919. By August of 1920, the necessary 36 states (of 48) had ratified the amendment and it went into effect.

It’s interesting to note the 12 states that had not yet ratified, including several that had rejected the amendment.

  • Connecticut ratified in September 1920.
  • Vermont ratified in 1921.
  • Delaware rejected the amendment in 1920, but did ratify in 1923.
  • Maryland rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1941.
  • Virginia rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1952.
  • Alabama rejected the amendment in 1919, but ratified it in 1953.
  • Florida ratified in 1969.
  • South Carolina rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1969.
  • Georgia rejected the amendment in 1919, but ratified it in 1970.
  • Louisiana rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1970.
  • North Carolina ratified in 1971.
  • Mississippi rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1984.

Not that long ago.

For comparison, the 15th amendment, ratified 50 years earlier.

SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

And the 26th, ratified in 1971.

SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.