My family has been celebrating the 4th of July with a reading of the Declaration of Independence for a long time now. I am descended from many families; all of them include individuals who participated in the American Revolution. My application to the Daughters of the American Revolution used Benjamin Pillsbury, who served at Valley Forge.
The stories you hear about Valley Forge were designed to keep people away from the training camp being run that winter. General Washington was getting some professional pointers from Baron Friedrich von Steuben This is reported as training for the soldiers but it was Washington himself who most needed it. The General's record up to that point had not been stellar. Training in strategy and tactics at the level practiced for war at that point in time was not available in the Colonies. Personally, I think it showed a lot of courage on Washington's part to admit he needed help and then make sure he got the best available.
After the Winter of Valley Forge General George Washington improved dramatically as a commanding officer.
It would be a long war anyway.
Lt. Pillsbury was a homesteader in New Hampshire when it was still the frontier. The town he helped found, Sandown, NH, contains the oldest still in use Meeting House in New England. Benjamin helped build it.
In the generations following the Revolution celebrating the 4th included food and fireworks, but it went a lot deeper. That is where we need to go again.
Then, some member of the community, and communities were small then, would stand where everyone could see and hear him and begin, “
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
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 to assume among the powers of the earth, the 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.”
The Founders knew that what people in other parts of the world thought of them mattered. They intended to become part of that larger community as a people, using government in a revolutionary way. Government would not be master, but their agent, the contractor who carried out some work for them, with proper oversight, naturally.
“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.”
This is the Bedrock of American Thought. All people are born possessed of God-given, inherent rights. Government has no control over the actions of individuals as they peacefully carry out their lives.
“ — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”