The birth of the United States of America presents an interplay of courage, contradictions, and a never-ending pursuit of a better nation. This story unfolds through the pursuit of liberty by the Founding Fathers and the conflicting realities lived by Native Americans, Enslaved Africans, and Women of the time.
The late 18th century was a period of rising tension in the American colonies under British rule. The Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, ignited a revolution rooted in ideals of freedom, equality, and a government that represented their well-being. However, as they sowed the seeds of a new nation with the Declaration of Independence, their vision remained deeply contradicted when it came to the Native Americans, Enslaved Africans, and Women they denied freedom, equality, and representation to.
For Native American tribes, this was a period of property confiscation, land loss, and warfare. As the Founding Fathers sought independence from British rule, indigenous peoples found their rights, cultures, and lands increasingly infringed upon in the name of nation-building. The contradiction between the vision and the reality of the founding continues to be painfully stark.
Enslaved Africans, too, bore witness to this brutal reality. The same Founding Fathers who championed liberty and self-determination were often themselves slave owners. As the new nation celebrated freedom, it upheld and relied on an institution that cruelly denied these very principles to a significant portion of the population.
The status of Women also emphasized the distance between the ideals and the reality of our early nation. They were excluded from taking part in decisions being made about what was best for the communities they lived in. The restricting of Women’s rights to vote, hold public office and participate in political life stood in contradictory tension with the pledge of 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,' which fell short for women – like Native Americans and Enslaved Africans – who also remained politically oppressed.
Despite these contradictory tensions, the Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for a nation capable of growth, evolution, and self-correction. This was exemplified in the crafting of the Constitution. While it failed to address many injustices of the time, it was designed to evolve in pursuit of a more perfect union. Consider, for example, our ability to make amendments, and our system of representational governance. These stand as a testament to the Founding Fathers' foresight that their initial vision was hinged on its ability to be continuously improved.
Over the years, our Constitutional structure has enabled inspiring movements to begin addressing past injustices and alleviating their present-day impact. As we celebrate our nation's founding, we honor the vision of our Founding Fathers and embrace the work that remains to ensure 'We the People' truly includes us all.
In pursuit of a more perfect union, Happy Independence Day!
Americans For Action
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