Happy weird mid-week day before a holiday when almost nobody seems to be working…and remember Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863.
But ethics never takes a break…
1. Oops! Did we miss the real holiday? On this date in 1776, John Adams wrote to Abigail that the day before, July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress had voted to declare American independence from the British Empire. Adams predicted that July 2 would eventually be celebrated by every generation of Americans with parades, speeches, songs and fireworks, which Adams called “illuminations.” Why did he turn out to be wrong? Oh, because history is messy, mistakes don’t get corrected, and tradition becomes more important than facts. (Once again, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” rule applies: “When legend becomes fact, print the legend!” )
What happened on July 4th? The unsigned but ratified Declaration was sent to the printer on that date, and the printer dutifully marked his prints with “July 4, 1776”. The delegates didn’t start signing the document until August 2, and all the signatures weren’t down on parchment until November. The dramatic depiction of the signing taking place on July 4 in the musical and movie “1776” is fake history. It’s not all Broadway’s and Hollywood’s fault: the iconic painting “Declaration of Independence,” by John Trumbull, a version of which hangs in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington and which the actors are staged to re-enact in “1776” is often captioned “July 4, 1776.”
Trumbull’s artwork actually shows the moment on June 28 when the Declaration drafting committee officially presented its work to the chairman of Continental Congress. John Hancock, There never was a signing ceremony.
Nonetheless, July 4 has, for some reason, been an unusually felicitous and significant day in U.S. history. It would be difficult to pick another that carried so much history, even without being the chosen date to honor the nation’s founding. Three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson famously dying on that date within hours of each other in 1826, fifty years after….the Declaration was sent to the printer.
But July 4, 1803, was the day word arrived from Paris that the Louisiana Purchase was complete, having been signed by Napoleon. Without it, the United States would have been a very different country, and a much weaker and poorer one.
July 4, 1863 also was the date Robert E. Lee acknowledged his defeat at Gettysburg after his desperate, risky, massed attack on the Union line across a fence-strewn field and up a grade into artillery fire failed. That defeat probably sealed the fate of the Confederacy, and meant that this unique nation would, despite a bloody close call, have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
2. And the Left’s asinine and destructive airbushing history mania continues…Charlottesville, Virginia, will no longer celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday on April 13 as an official city holiday. After all, all Tom did was put Charlottesville on the map, found the University of Virginia there, and leave his amazing home, Monticello, behind to entice tourists. He also had some other minor achievements, like authoring most of the Declaration of Independence and acquiring about half the continental U.S. for a song. Maybe the city doesn’t remember that. What matters most to them is not that Jefferson laid the foundation for the elimination of slavery with his definition of the mission of the new nation he helped to birth, but the fact that he engaged in the fully legal practice of slavery that dominated the culture of his home state, because his personal character didn’t match his public aspirations.
The city council voted this week that the city will observe a new holiday recognizing the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. Charlottesville will now mark Liberation and Freedom Day on March 3, the day U.S. Army forces arrived in the city in 1865.
If there was a single fair, courageous and intelligent member of the city counsel, he or she would have resigned on the spot.
3. Rep. Duncan Hunter(R-Cal.) When Ethics Alarms last visited Rep. Duncan Hunter, he was removing a piece of art championed by the Congressional Black Caucus that portrayed police officers as pigs. That was positive, but little else involving Hunter has been. Hunter and his wife were indicted in August on charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses ranging from groceries to golf trips and family vacations, then lied about it in federal filings. Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty last month to one corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband. Hunter’s defense/excuse/rationalization is that he made “mistakes,” that his wife was at fault because he entrusted to her his personal and campaign finances during his last five terms in office. Even though he had been indicted, his Republican district re-elected him anyway.
Now it looks like we will learn why his wife has flipped against him.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan ruled this week that jurors in Duncan’s trial can hear evidence of Hunter’s many extramarital affairs as they consider whether he looted his campaign funds. Prosecutors say that he also used campaign money to illegally finance a string of romantic relationships with lobbyists and congressional aides. Hunter’s attorney argued that any mention of extramarital affairs and “personal indiscretions” would be “extremely prejudicial” at the trial set for September.
At this point, a public servant with an atom of integrity and responsibility would resign.