4th of July, 2013…Recollections of History

I felt the need to take a moment and look at where exactly our country has come, and maybe where it might be going, on this fortuitous day known as Independence Day.  That is the day that we, as a confederacy, enacted our Declaration of Independence!  July 2nd, 17–whoops, sorry the bill was passed by the continental congress on the second of July to go to war with Britain, but it didn’t hit the papers with he Declaration of Independence until July 4th, so we celebrate that, instead.

So as I said, let’s take a brief look at the country as it was back in 1776, when the first day of Independence happened.

Firstly…

We weren’t an independent nation, actually we weren’t even a nation at the time, until some years after.  It’s debatable what you would consider the actual year, whether it’s 1783 when we won the Revolutionary War and Britain recognized our independence, or if you want to call it 1788 when we ratified the constitution; or perhaps 1789 when we actually had a standing government based on the constitution.  Regardless we weren’t actually independent on the first Independence Day, though.

Freedom…at the time…

At the time of our independence of course, we had slaves, women couldn’t vote, as a matter of fact men who didn’t own land couldn’t really vote, either.  So basically the only people who could vote were white, wealthy men; which were pretty much the guys who ran for office, too (well, at least that hasn’t changed, right?).  So let’s start looking at July 4ths on 50 year turns…starting from 1776.

July 4th, 1826

The second and third presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both die on July 4th; both men also signed the original Declaration of Independence.  The country still had slavery in the south, although by now many northern states had abolished it with gradual emancipation.  Hey, we can’t all be William Whipple, right?  Although the freed slaves still couldn’t vote, or own property in some states, and many states required freed blacks to get passes to travel from state-to-state.  Women were still property, by the way, and couldn’t vote either; but at least if they were white and/or wealthy they could travel somewhat freely.

July 4th, 1876

Well shit, some fool thought it would be a good idea to start a war between the northern and southern states of the U.S.  How did it turn out?  Well during the American Civil War more than 625,000 soldiers died; although 65% of that was due to disease and shit with only 35% of the dead being killed during combat (and that’s not including friendly fire or the gun blowing up in their face).  Add to that number another 400-500 thousand wounded soldiers who were often maimed for life; missing limbs, eyes, etc.

And before someone gives us credit for it, it was an economic war, not a war to free the slaves.  Abraham Lincoln actually supported slavery, having said that he would not veto a bill in congress that was being voted when he was elected.  That bill basically would have made it illegal to abolish slavery on a federal level.

So we have freed the slaves and the Jim Crow laws, enacted and ruthlessly enforced in many southern states, make the lives of freed blacks actually worse than it was during the times of slavery.  Great job guys, keep up the good work.  And women?  Yeah, well, I’m sure you didn’t want to vote or own land.  What’s that?  You thought you were allowed to own property?  That’s silly, you are property you dumb bitch!  Hahaha!

08-angry-woman_medium-1

No, seriously…by 1876 in the U.S. most states allowed a married woman to own and manage her husband’s estate if he was incapacitated.  And several states allowed a woman to own property in her name, but she was not allowed to manage it.  Which meant, ladies, that you could own a farm…but you had to hire a man to run it for you; or you could own the family farm and marry a man who would run it, even though it was in your name.  At the time the only place that allowed unmarried women to own property was Oregon and I’m not real sure it was even a state, yet.  Although to be fair, Maine did enact a law in 1857 which allowed married women to control their own money; and by this time (1876) a total of…20 other states have permitted it with Wyoming coming in this very year.  The first woman to practice law in the U.S and the first female doctor have come about and most states allow married women to start trade guilds (mostly Sewing Guilds), but still not all.

Gays?  Meh, you don’t legally exist so who cares about you, right?  Any non-Christian religious person or institution in the U.S.?  Good luck with that.

July 4th, 1926

Jesus, that was one hell of a war!  I don’t see why everybody’s calling the Great War, it was fuckin’ horrendous!  Definitely not going to have another one of those, by God.  Damn, I mean…we’re probably gonna just stop going to war entirely after all that shit in Europe happened.  Oh well, anyway on the home front…

The first female police officer recently retired, having been hired by the Chicago Police force; who cares if she was actually Canadian and only made it to the rank of sergeant after 32 years on the force, right?  Glass ceiling, ladies; you’ll eventually get used to it, I’m sure.  Remember that female law student from the last celebration?  Well in 1896 we actually let her become a lawyer, well in one state at least, but y’know that’s better than letting you get an expensive law degree just to take care of the kids at home, right?  And I’m pretty sure you can run for office by now, although your friends still can’t vote for you unless they have a penis.  Oh wait, that’s right…in 1920 you actually won the right to vote.  Isn’t that cute?

Blacks?  Well, you’re doing a lot better than you were a century ago, at least now you can vote, right?  Well, I mean you have the legal right…however there are all kinds of laws and thugs that make it hard, if not impossible, to do so without getting lynched, but it’s a step in the right direction!

Gays?  Shh, you still don’t exist!

Semen just suddenly erupted from my palm!

Semen just suddenly erupted from my palm!

July 4th, 1976

Seriously?  How are we stupid enough to get involved in the Second War to End All Wars?  And then ten years later wind up fighting in Korea.  What?  Vietnam?  Aww shit, ya frickin’ idiots.  Fuck the French.

Not to mention the giant chick statue!

Not to mention the giant chick statue!

Blacks?  Congratulations you finally have some actual rights, as of about…ten years ago; also in 1952 you could immigrate and become a citizen.  Yay, right?

Ladies?  Congratulations, you have some rights, too.  You even have the right to get abortions as of three years earlier from Roe v. Wade, which was a resounding victory for abortion rights; no way anyone could ever argue that decision, right?

Filipino’s?  Congratulations you finally have independence for the first time in almost 4 centuries.

Gays?  Holy fuck where’d you come from?  Four years ago the Supreme Court said that discrimination against Gays is not unconstitutional.  And in Washington State it was determined that homosexuality was immoral and that is was proper grounds to fire a teacher with a perfect record.  Also, that law I mentioned that says Blacks can come to the U.S. and become citizens?  Yeah, well faggots can’t, or commies; get out and stay out!  And in two years someone’s going to martyr the shit out of the first gay public official, Harvey Milk.

July 4th, 2026?

Well, where will we be here?  Will we strip away the rights of Women and Blacks (and Latinos, Muslims, etc.) to vote, get medical care, etc.?  Will we force poor people, who can’t afford overpriced medical coverage to pay fines and go to prison?  Will we let homosexual marry each other?

We’ve made strides toward equality: We’ve taken down DOMA and Prop 8, we’ve made it so that anyone can vote, we’ve created protections for gender, race, and religious creed.

Of course you can still be fired, and in some places arrested, for being gay.  We have fanatical wings of our political parties who are trying to remove the ability for minorities and women to vote and to take away their rights.  Women still can’t breastfeed in public without getting harassed, but a man can walk around shirtless with no legal consequences.  Economic hardships for the poor and middle class are the worst they’ve been since the Great Depression, but the wealthy are the wealthiest they’ve been since the country was founded; income and wealth disparity ever-growing with no end in sight.

It’s still hard to tell whether this country will improve or fall apart in the next decade as we near our tri-centenial in 2076.

Who knows?  Maybe we’ll get invaded by China in 2014 and Independence day will be a moot point anyway.

~RCS

I’m learning Cantonese just in case.  Yu Mo Gwai Gwaai, Fai Di Zao.

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