As I sat down to write about the 4th of July, Independence Day in America, I re-read my post from 2011 about our Founding Fathers, their frustrations with Mother England and its increasing taxation of them without representation, and how the Obama Administration’s constant efforts to impose taxes on American citizens over their strenuous objections, for programs the majority of them do not want, caused me to wonder, Is Barack Obama this generation’s King George III?
Those reflections about our Founding Fathers and the beginnings of this country are a bit more meaningful for me this year, because in the past year, I’ve done a good bit of genealogical research. I learned, much to my surprise, that both sides of my dad’s family were among the patriots who founded this country and fought in the American Revolution. That’s given me a whole new perspective.
That story had not been family lore passed down from generation to generation, and I wondered, why not? I can only surmise that it is because they were simple, humble people, who never thought what they had done was so extraordinary; they’d only done what they believed they needed to do to secure a better future for their families (much like those who serve in today’s military).
And for their courage and tenacity, I am immensely grateful. It allowed me to “win the birth lottery,” being born in this great nation.
I learned that my immigrant ancestors, from both sides of my
dad’s family, came to America before 1620, which, if you’ve forgotten – or
never learned American history -- was the year the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts
and established Plymouth Colony. They
sailed from England to this great unknown land, a wilderness inhabited by
“strange” (to them) and sometimes not-so-friendly natives.
What motivated them to uproot their families from an established, stable life in England to sail across a vast ocean to a life filled with uncertainty, danger, and struggle? One thing made it worth that risk to them:
Some of my ancestors were French Huguenots, who fled to
England to escape religious persecution in France. France was mostly Roman Catholic, and Rome
was determined to control all souls. The Calvinist Huguenots caused them great
concern, and blood was shed (once again) over the control of people. Thousands of Huguenots were murdered because of their religious beliefs.
Notice that’s Freedom OF Religion, not Freedom FROM Religion! I've noticed that many folks today seem to confuse the two.
One of my ancestors was a musician in the French court, and after an English courtier met him on a visit to France and arranged safe passage to England, his family became musicians to the Kings of England for three generations.
Some of my ancestors came as part of the Puritan migration, when it became evident that attempts to reform the Church of England from within were futile.
One immigrant ancestor was a ship’s captain who brought immigrants from England to the New World, then settled in Massachusetts himself, married and started a family here. (One of my cousins said, “Oh! So that’s why you were in the Navy!”)
The other immigrant ancestor (we believe – many of the Virginia courthouse records were destroyed in the Civil War, so it will be difficult to prove) enjoyed some prestige in England as a member of the Grocers of London, yet he brought his family to the new colony at Jamestown, Virginia, where he became a planter, with a plantation along the banks of the James River of more than a thousand acres.
Which brings us pretty much full circle back to my earlier
article. Remember the Boston Tea Party
incident, where the tea, on which tax was owed to the East India Company, was
thrown into Boston Harbor?
I said earlier:
“The Tea Act had granted a monopoly on (legal) tea trade in the colonies to the East India Company, and the colonists were concerned that this government-created monopoly might be extended to other goods in the future.”
They had good reason for that concern. One of the things I learned in my genealogy research is that the East India Company was owned by the Grocers of London.
When the "Grocers of London" are
mentioned, you would probably imagine someone selling fruits and vegetables at
a corner grocery. But the Grocer's Company was established in the 1300’s,
and became known as the Worshipful Company of Grocers of London. Its members had a virtual monopoly over all
food and drug products sold in England for more than three centuries. It
was a very powerful and prestigious group, second in the order of precedence
for the Great Twelve City Livery Companies.
The Grocers Company founded:
That is why the colonists were so concerned about the monopoly on tea that had been granted to the East India Company by the Tea Act.
It’s amazing how this history has come alive and become “more real” to me since I learned that my ancestors were among those colonists who settled this country, and then fought for our freedom and independence. It makes this Independence Day take on new meaning for me, and strengthens my resolve to continue to preserve and protect the freedoms they sacrificed to create for me.
Today, once again, our religious freedom is under attack. Not just Protestants, but all Christians, are under attack in today’s world. My family, Protestant for more than 500 years, fled from France, to England, to America in search of religious freedom. Where do we go now to practice our religion in peace?
I submit to you, there is nowhere else. America was founded on Christian principles, as a Christian nation (despite what those in Washington want to tell you). If you don’t believe it, read our founding documents for yourself. Look at all the references to God and the Bible in our historical documents and monuments. Look at our system of laws based upon the Ten Commandments.
We have welcomed those of other faiths, and allowed them to also practice their own religions in peace. But now that others are attempting to drive Christianity out of America, it is time for us to stand up, speak up, and take our country back! There is nowhere else to go.
Christians are under attack around the world today. We must stand strong together.
This Independence Day, as you celebrate with your family and friends, think about doing your own genealogy research - you might learn that your family, too, was among the founders of this great nation.
And please, take a moment to pause and give thanks for those who stand in harm’s way, wearing the uniform of these United States, to preserve and protect those hard-won freedoms, beginning with the Declaration of Independence, and enumerated in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
If you’ve never read those documents for yourself, there isn’t a better time than right now!
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