Yesterday, Americans celebrated the decision of the Nation’s Founding Fathers to declare independence from their oppressors in Great Britain. But celebrating Independence Day at a time when tyrannical creep from centralized government has made lack of freedom in the United States seem so painfully obvious likely feels a bit perverse to even the most patriotic Americans. That’s why a historical event that took place on this day a year earlier than the Declaration of Independence was born may make July 5 a date that Americans should note with more regard than the Fourth of July.
On July 5, 1775, the Second Continental Congress of the United States adopted John Dickenson’s Olive Branch petition, a document that declared the American colonists were willing to remain loyal to the British crown — but only on the condition that their rights were recognized by the royalty overseas.
Dickenson’s statement of opposition to British policy in the petition leaves no doubt that a final break with Britain, and the prospect of a resultant bloody revolution, was not the primary goal of Colonial leadership at the time.
One passage from the petition phrases the Colonial opposition in terms of apologetic necessity:
We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices practised by many of your Majestys ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrors, and unavailing severities, that have from time to time been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitic plan, or of traceing thro’ a series of years past the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies which have flowed from this fatal source.
Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.
In essence, Dickenson was informing the king that it was not his policy that the Colonists opposed, but that of his ministers.
The Olive Branch petition was sent to King George III on July 8. And the crown’s unwillingness to receive the petition made very clear that he considered the will of his ministers and his own will one in the same.
Americans today could easily draw many comparisons between the Colonial America and Great Britain power struggle and that which is occurring between Federal and local governance in the Nation today. Instead of a far-removed royal order, modern Americans are subject to executive whim directed from Washington D.C., a place completely oblivious to Main Street, USA. There is no king directing ministerial dogsbodies to ensure that the will of the throne is realized. In today’s America, a Presidential Administration enlists the help of various Federally funded agencies to make its will reality:
- An Internal Revenue Service to target political enemies.
- A National Surveillance Agency to listen in on billions of daily conversations for evidence of subversion.
- A Justice Department to prosecute any that dare veer away from the will of the Federal government.
Many Americans have become so disenfranchised by Federal supremacy that calls for Revolutionary action are pretty common, though the prospect of such would bring about only unthinkable bloodshed and pain for the American populace. And the Federal government has taken careful steps to ensure that no such action could ever present to an angry citizenry as a viable option for governmental reform. Contrarian actions like blowing the whistle on government wrongs or protesting the wrongs presented by whistle-blowers are potential markers of terroristic leanings.
The ever-expanding definition of “terror” has given Federal officials a means by which to justify mass surveillance and militaristic policing in the homeland. And any inclination of a popular movement away from lemming-like behavior is a potential catalyst for harsh government crackdown.
Americans today, no matter how angry they are at government, recognize the same harsh reality that confronted the men who so hoped the Olive Branch petition would help: This is no time for all out Revolution. The potential for death and tyrannical proliferation is far too real.
The time has come for a new Olive Branch, one written on behalf of the American everyman and addressed to the highest ranks in Washington. It should encourage the Nation’s leadership to restore the Constitutional rights of every American citizen, to operate only within its original Constitutional confines and to put the Nation back on the path blazed by the Nation’s original leadership.
If Washington, like King George, refuses to accept the terms of the people, those who wish to remain on the right side of history will be left with few options. And they will be forced to decide: Is the America as envisioned by the Founding Fathers to forever perish? Or, to borrow from Thomas Jefferson, will the tree of liberty be again refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants?