1776: The American Revolution – History Documentary

separate and equal station to which the
laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation 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 dr. Frank C Baxter is an American a man
of many degrees and awards including the famed Peabody Award in addition to seven
TV Emmys he is a dedicated student of American history and proud of the one
thing he loves above all else his country now let us meet our distinguished host
Oh I’m not one of our cherished American institutions I’m only Frank Baxter
however with the help of some powerful pages of history
we’re going to re-examine this priceless document this venerable piece of
parchment that has been handed down to us whenever so much loving care this
Declaration of Independence that is our heritage most of us I think know a
little of what happened on that hot prickly fourth of July in 1776 we know
that the liberty bell rang we know the Thomas Jefferson played a
part in it and John Adams we know it took place in Philadelphia in
Independence Hall or the State House it was known at that time and we’re all
familiar with the signature of John Hancock who wrote his name so large that
King George could read it even without his spectacles let’s take a good look at
our great national treasure our crown jewels so to speak or it is a treasure
of value without compare out of this cede part of our heritage has come the
Constitution out of it came the Bill of Rights out of it came our fundamental
laws and out of it came a philosophy and a word that swept the world as no other
political ideas ever done before or since we’re out of our heritage has come
human Liberty democracy the birth of a great nation this is our heritage all
right now we know a little of what it is next we ask ourselves how did it happen
why was it necessary suddenly to shut off our family ties to cut the apron
strings that bound us to mother England well it didn’t happen suddenly it was a
long long time before the pressure was strong enough to blow the lid one man
alone was responsible a handsome young stubborn ill-starred
villain story His Majesty King George the third
of England in all 28 separate and specific charges are listed in the
Declaration the king was building the troops in the homes of the people the
king deprived this in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury the King
suspended our legislators and refused to listen to our side of the dispute he is
rather dark coasts burnt our towns and destroyed our people this is the heart
of the matter these oppressive acts by England unjust taxes one after another taxes on
personal property if you please all of which cause Patrick Henry to
explode in defiance give me liberty or give me death the Stamp Act the towns of
Act of 65 import on blast paper and tea a boycott by the colonists brought
repeal of this act except for the tax on tea result and Patriots disguised as
Indians at themselves a tea party in 1770 mob of Rowdies heckled alone
British sentry in Boston guard came mob threw stones
Britisher is fired or ragged moly five poor misguided souls lay dead and
history called it the Boston Massacre night of April 1875 Paul Revere rides British column moves on Lexington shots
are fired eight colonists killed April 19th Redcoats routed and Concord
tide turns in a new country June 17 1775 a swarming army of ragdale
militiamen stand up to the full mind England’s best thousand redcoats die on
the slopes of breeds Hill to be known later as the Battle of Bunker Hill oh
yes it was a long time coming this explosion that was triggered by the
actions of the men who gathered in the old Statehouse on that hot fourth of
July in 1776 these men who before the day was over were to mutually pledge to
each other their lives their fortunes and their sacred honor their lives their
fortunes and their sacred honor this is where the United States of America was
born right here in this sacred shrine think of the men who’ve met here
probably is great a collection of reigns and vision of Education genius of
courage of experience ever brought together in the history of mankind it
was if you believe in them and I believe in this one a miracle I have no doubt of
it excitement crackled among the delegates
from the 13 colonies on that 4th of July they were here to make a decision should
they vote to sever all ties with the crown or should they procrastinate stall
off the inevitable try to give King George just one more chance
specifically the delegates to the Congress were to decide on a resolution
presented about three weeks earlier by Richard Henry Lee senior delegate from
the colony of Virginia but 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 under all political connections between them and the state
of Great Britain is and ought to be totally to solve the delegates have
thought about it they talk to each other about it the whole population of the
colonies have been discussing it in fact now the decision had to be made think
for a moment of the consequences of this action if they voted for independence
there would be a war a costly bloody war and if they lost it would in all
certainty mean confiscation of their property prison for their families and
as certain as anything could be a hangman’s noose for the lot of them
now Congress had made another decision back there on the 7th of June wise and I
think a most fortunate decision they appointed a committee to prepare
document an actual Declaration of Independence
just in case Lee’s resolution was passed later on five men representative of the
whole were chosen to be on this drafting committee there was Robert R Livingstone
of New York the young lawyer only thirty years old at the time Livingstone later
administered the oath of office to George Washington at his first
inauguration and there was Roger Sherman of Connecticut 55 years old very
successful merchant long time public official both feet firmly on the ground
ruled and able Benjamin Franklin was on that drafting committee old man 69 from
Pennsylvania a legend in his own time Ritter author inventor he invented
bifocals you know statesman publisher philosopher scientist educator
philanthropist you name it Franklin was it from
Massachusetts there was John Adams only 41 in the full light of history one of
the most eminent of all Americans was Adams forthright impulsive he was honest
he was noble the Atlas of American independence I’m the chairman of the
committee picked almost by chance chance we may say now guided by a divine hand
he was from Virginia and he was put 33 years of age sandy-haired slightly
freckled outstanding in politics economics agriculture architecture and
science his name is Ed for all time wherever freedom and liberty and the
dignity of man are recognized Thomas Jefferson well the committee met and as
is the way with committees three of them had other things to do so the real work
fell to Adams and Jefferson Adams much more experienced and the senior of the
two said to Jefferson you should draft this document
Jefferson declined modestly I’ll give you three reasons that Adams reason the
first you are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of
this business reason second I am controversial and unpopular you were
very much otherwise and reason third you can write ten times better than I can
that settled it young Thomas Jefferson was elected shortly his talented pens
settled to the task we can imagine this sensitive young man angry and resentful
of the king yet but pure enough and wise enough to hold himself in check he
writes he scratches out he talks with Franklin he talks with Adams and he
writes some more I’m slowly word by word thought by thought there
the noble majestic music of the Declaration of Independence when in the
course of human events it’s almost as if he’s listening to the heartbeats of his
people so rhythmic so stately as the cadence when in the course of human
events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands
which have connected them with another and it gathers momentum like an eagle
taking off from a mountain crag into the vastness of the sky then this tremendous
statement 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
and that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness on July 1st
the Congress resumed its debate on Lee’s resolution of Independence
farmer John Dickinson of Pennsylvania protested what he said made much good
sense the colonists were unprepared to battle the mighty power of Britain they
could never hope to win who logic of this cast a damper on the Congress and
John Adams road never an orator or easy with words or once his lips were touched
with fire he had but one theme the necessity for Liberty the warmth of his
idealism galvanized the Congress to debate once more Adams is stirring
speech was punctuated by a passing summer storm with dramatic bolts of
lightning she’s a thunder finally on the 2nd of July Congress
agreed that there was no other course but to sever the ties that bound the
colonies to the crown now young Tom Jefferson’s great document was
introduced the delegates wisely changed a line here a thought there on July 4th
1776 they unanimously accepted the final form and began to upend their signatures die was cast there was no retreat
Declaration was dispatched forthwith by mounted couriers to all the colonies on July 5th it was read aloud to the
people of Philadelphia and the famous old bell in the tower proclaim liberty
throughout the land no need to tell you what this cracked
old veteran is but forgive me if I had a personal note this is an old friend of
mine this bill I’ve known it since I was this high you see I was born and raised
almost within sight of this very building these two thousand pounds of
our history began a long and useful career in the old Statehouse in 1753 it
had summoned the members of the Pennsylvania colonial assembly the
famous craic occurred much later when the bell tolled the death of Chief
Justice John Marshall in 1836 now here’s the strange coincidence that should
drill all Americans to their very fiber when the Bell was first ordered back in
1751 specifications had called for a quotation from the Old Testament to be
inscribed around its crown proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the
inhabitants thereof our most famous and venerated symbol of patriotism the
Liberty Bell which forever reminds us most forcefully of our sacred heritage another famous symbol of Liberty
the Capitol dome in Washington what it stands for is also part of the legacy
bequeathed us by Jefferson and Adams and Franklin and hand gotten all that
courageous band on the 4th of July in 76 yes the symbol of government of freemen
strong and powerful yet tender and solicitous toward those who seek its
shelter a government born of the Declaration of Independence yes this is
our heritage magnificent isn’t it
parking far above our heads the dome of this celebrated rotunda the rotunda
which is the very heart of our nation’s capital and where these paintings
illustrates so dramatically our glorious history surrender of General Burgoyne at
Saratoga this signal the first major defeated the British was the turning
point of the revolution one of a series of paintings by the famous John Trumbull
another Trumbull masterpiece great milestone in our history the surrender
of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 this marked the end of the British cause and
America our first president George Washington farmer soldiers statesmen his
faith in men his love of Liberty provided the very strength that pulsed
the newborn nation trembles painting of a weary commander resigning his
commission after leading his troops to victory soon after grateful nation
bestowed upon General Washington its highest honor president of the New
Republic but this is the painting that interests us most now the Declaration of
Independence there’s the drafting committee
presenting the great document to the president of the Congress John Hancock
artist Trumbull knew these men and events firsthand and his familiarity is
so convincingly expressed in his art there’s rugged John Adam Roger Sherman
young Robert Livingston there’s the author Jefferson and his gay red vest
and Ben Franklin short in stature but a giant among men a great moment in
history the birth of our nation and you know our nation’s capital city
is rich in visible dividends from our precious heritage I wonder what those
delegates to the Continental Congress would have to say about this great
capital city of ours monument to a government of freemen Abraham Lincoln was fully aware of every
word in the Declaration of Independence the date was 1861 nabe Lincoln was on
his way to the nation’s capital for his first inauguration paused in
Philadelphia long enough to say to a gathering at Independence Hall I have
never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied
in the Declaration of Independence it was the sentiment in that document
which gave promise that in due time weight would be lifted from the
shoulders of all men in the distance the White House where
Abraham Lincoln lived and worked 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a famous address
home of our presidents whose solemn oath of office dedicates their very lives to
the preservation of our sacred heritage this legacy this magnificent inheritance
has not been handed to us on a silver platter not by a longshot price of Liberty and freedom comes dear
very dear when the chips are down we are prepared always to defend these sacred
principles upon which our nation was founded the hope of our world rests on our faith
in the destiny of our country through such faith our forefathers built this
country it’s been costly or so costly there has scarcely been a period of time
in all our history when our heritage has not been challenged and threatened this
dark and evil Menace never ceases and we have never ceased to meet it our struggle for freedom and
independence and that tragic winter at Valley Forge war of 1812 Battle of New Orleans for
the first time the United States became really united Francis Scott Key wrote
the star-spangled banner’ 1846 our dispute with Mexico Texas joins the
Union and our southern boundary is firmly established Paget II of the War Between the States
neighbor against neighbor brother against brother our nation torn asunder 98 we were at war with Spain Cuba
remember the main Havana Harbor in San Juan Hill 19:17 the Yanks are coming and the world
was going to be safe for democracy Holocaust of World War two all too soon by Korea our heritage in
its gravest hour when the price and Liberty was the lifeblood of our youth through this requiem of silence runs the
mighty theme of the declaration of independence voiced so eloquently by
Thomas Jefferson I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against
every form of tyranny over the mind of man what life goes on for the Republic
it’s those men of 1776 established new generation follows old generation as
spring follows winter wonderful isn’t it just think that tiny
seed of freedom planted by our valiant forefathers
has grown into a nation among nations a nation which champions the dignity of
man throughout the world these trees were a gift to us from the people of
Japan more than 50 years ago each spring thousands of Americans flocked to
Washington just to admire their matchless beauty we could stand here and
wonder at one of the most thrilling sights we have ever had the privilege to
behold we’re over there across the reflecting waters of the tidal basin is
the Jefferson Memorial the stately and beautiful tribute paid
to Jefferson by the American people for whom he did so much inspired words of Jefferson proudly
carved here on the walls of this shrine words that will never die but all men
shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions and matters
of religion God who gave us life gave us Liberty I am NOT an advocate for
frequent changes in laws and constitutions but laws and institutions
must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind Thomas Jefferson the
great genius who gave us our heritage the Declaration of Independence
Jefferson died on the 4th of July 1826 fifty years to the day almost to the
hour that he willed us our legacy Thomas Jefferson lives forever in the hearts of
freedom you

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