America’s historical legacy is disappearing. Revisionism infected college instruction and the by-product has been over 40 years of undermining the roots of our nation and glossing over the significance and miracle of our beginning. Sadly, most young Americans are unaware of what the Fourth of July celebrates, much less having any fundamental understanding of our Founding Documents. Our form of government, a republic, demands an educated citizenry; the very survival of our nation depends on it.

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Chapter 1: The Indelible Beginnings that Define America
Judaism and Christianity
Want to know what the target is? Go to the end of this chapter and look at the review questions. Before you start a job, it’s always nice to know what people are expecting of you. 

America is considered to be a Christian nation; have you wondered why? (Probably not, but play along with me, okay?) Granted, people of a wide variety of religious backgrounds have come here, but the USA is not considered to be a Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim, Rastafarian, nor a Taoist nation. And here’s a thought: would the United States even be the same country if it were not for Christianity? 
Christianity has had a huge impact on American History.  I mean huge – as in really BIG. Even large, enormous, perhaps even gigantamundo. (Spellcheck didn’t recognize that last one.) Discussing the roots of American History without considering the role of Christianity would be like thinking about polka without dots, pizza without cheese, or Star Wars without the Force. 
Am I suggesting other religions didn’t play a part in shaping America? Of course they did. Actually, they are now having a bigger affect than they did in our beginnings. Back in the day, though, Christianity was the MAIN player. Consider the metaphor of a cake. (You don’t remember what a metaphor is? It’s a comparison between two things to help form a conceptual understanding. There, now you remember. And I’m not even going to charge you for a Language Arts lesson.) Back to the cake. A cake has many ingredients, right? Flour, water, eggs, sugar, baking powder and some oil or shortening. Once the cake is baked and then frosted, you can add a bunch of decorations such as sprinkles, coconut, chocolate chips, candles, and pillow cases (just checking to see if you’re paying attention). Which parts are necessary to have the cake? Could we eliminate the coconut and still have cake? The flavor would change, but we could have a non-coconut cake, right? We could do away with the sprinkles, chocolate chips, and even the frosting (Calm down, I’m not going to make you give up frosting). The point is, the actual cake is the combination of the flour, sugar, water, eggs, baking soda, and shortening. How about cutting out the flour? We’re not going to get a cake by combining sugar, water, eggs, baking soda and shortening. In fact, if you serve that for your birthday, it’ll probably be the last time friends come over. Okay, now for the metaphor: Let’s say America is the cake. The American cake of today has many decorations on it. The ingredients include many different religions and belief systems. What’s the flour? The flour of the American cake is Christianity. So, bon appetit. (Pronounced bone appa-teet - French for “Good Eating.”)

“Is this important?” you ask. Of course it’s important! Why else would I have included this information? Understanding that Christianity is a key part of the foundation of the United States is not only important – it is essential. Without this fundamental knowledge, understanding America’s DNA (genetic composition) is almost impossible. It would be like saying that I understand you without knowing what you believe, or how you arrive at the most important decisions of your life. If you are experiencing emotional conflict, guilt, depression, anxiety, etc – how could I possibly understand why if I didn’t know what is important in your belief system? Without understanding Christianity’s impact on America, it is impossible to understand many of the problems our country struggles with today. (More on this later.)
During the following explanations, you may periodically wonder, “What does all this religious background have to do with American History?” (Don’t tune out! If you tried to explain your favorite role playing game to a newbie - or especially a parent, it would take some time set the stage, right?)
History is much more than a listing of facts, and anybody who tries to present it that way should be banned from teaching. More than dates, names, places, and occurrences, history is a story that answers how and why. Knowing how something came to pass and the reason that something happened is what we’re after... or should be. Reciting that America was founded as a Christian nation reflects knowledge, but knowing why that is important, and how it occurred reflects understanding. When you can explain those kinds of things, people listen to you with respect, and start inviting you to all their parties. So, let’s begin... (chapter continues)


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Chapter 12 – Declaring Independence

“Dear John, I’m breaking up with you because...”
If you were breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, would you explain to him or her why? Better yet, if you were cutting off relations with your parents, would you think they deserved an explanation? The colonists had tried for years to get England to recognize them as equals and respect their rights as English citizens. From 1763 to 1776, petitions, boycotts, various protests, violence, and now war occurred in effort to cause change. However, England would not relinquish on the matters which the colonists addressed. The Patriot leaders knew the time had come for a formal parting of the ways, but still, many dragged their feet. For almost 170 years, the colonies were part of England; writing a letter and ending the relationship officially was a difficult step for many to take.

In January of 1776, an English immigrant named Thomas Paine published a 48 page pamphlet entitled, Common Sense. The small book was an overnight sensation as the number of copies printed soared from 120,000 in the first three months to over 500,000 during its first year. (That is truly amazing since that represents one-fifth of the 2.5 million people living in America at the time – men, women, and children.) 
The reason for the success of the book? Paine was able to explain the appropriateness for the break with England in terms that the average person could understand. His eloquence and common sense explanations spoke to the minds and hearts of people who were exasperated with England’s failure to respect the colonists, and yet were struggling with the guilt and anxiety of breaking away from their parent country. Paine methodically explained the natural course of events, the mistreatment, and the logical path to follow in a convincing manner that tipped the balance for many colonists in finally reaching this conclusion: Independence from England was the inevitable and common sense resolution.
What follows are excerpts from Common Sense. Although the language and style may seem somewhat confusing to you, it spoke clearly to the average person in 1776.
"In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense.... 
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great-Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer...that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe. 
But she has protected us, say some.... We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment.... 
This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.... 
As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependence on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics. 
Europe is too thickly planted with Kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection with Britain.... 
There is something absurd, in supposing a Continent to be perpetually governed by an island.... 
No man was a warmer wisher for a reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 [the day of the battles of Lexington and Concord], but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.... 
Where, say some, is the king of America? I’ll tell you, Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Great Britain.... So far as we approve of America the law is king.... 
A government of our own is our natural right.... Ye that oppose independence now, ye know not what ye do: ye are opening the door to eternal tyranny.... There are thousands and tens of thousands, hwo would think it glorious to expel from the Continent, that barbarous and hellish power, which hath stirred up the Indians and the Negroes to destroy us.... 
O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom halth been hunted round the Globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind."     Thoms Paine, Common Sense, 1776

The step of declaring independence might have been easy for many colonists to argue about, but taking it was a serious matter. Debating it as an idea or concept was one thing, facing the very real consequences was quite another. Try to put yourself in the position of a small scale farmer. 
Before taking the action of siding with a war for independence, your life would be filled with the daily responsibilities of surviving on your farm. Daily, you rise at 3:30 A.M. to begin tending to the animals: milking, feeding, collecting eggs, cleaning up the animal messes in the barn. One of your animals is sick, so you have to put it down or figure out what to do for it. By 5:00 A.M., you grab a quick breakfast before heading out to the crops. They’re not ready for harvest, but you must weed, water, fertilize, and pick bugs off the plants you have over your 2 acres of planted land. You work on this, but stop by 11:00 A.M. and go in for the lunch your wife has prepared. From 11:30 to 1:30, you kill and bleed a hog – then hang the carcass – and have to come back to the remainder of the task later. From 1:30 to 3:30, you plow a half acre in preparation for a later season’s crop. At 3:30, you take an early supper meal and spend a full hour with the family. From 4:30 to 6:00 you prepare the portion of the roof which is leaking which requires hand splitting logs to make new shingles. At 6:00 P.M. a neighbor comes over to talk for 30 minutes and the two of you debate what should be done about relations with England. At 6:30, you build a fire and boil water to pour over the hog carcass and begin the tedious process of scrubbing the hair from the skin. At 7:30, your hands and forearms are shaking from exertion, so you head in for a light dinner. At 8:00, you’re back out in the barn to feed the animals again. By 9:00 P.M., you’re too tired to continue, so you fall in bed and sleep until 3:30 A.M. at which time you’ll get up for another day.
As the farmer, if you support independence, shouldn’t you “live” your support by being willing to fight for it? If not you, who? Other people who had just as many personal responsibilities as you? If you are willing to fight for independence and join the army, who will run the farm while you’re away? Your young wife, pregnant with your first child? Will she be able to do her own work of making soap and candles, canning fruits and vegetables, cutting, salting, and preparing meat for storage, gathering water, making and repairing clothes, tending the newborn baby, traveling and bartering (trading) for goods needed from others, keeping the fireplace/oven supplied and burning, cleaning, watching the property for possible threats, making musket balls for the musket you left her, and much, much more AND do your tasks? If hostile Indians take advantage of your absence, or worse, British soldiers who are angry with families supporting the rebel cause visit your farm, who will protect her? If you get killed in action, will she even hear, let alone survive. What if troops, either British or American, come through and steal all the winter’s provisions she has stored for survival? (This was not uncommon.) What if your wife contracts typhoid, diphtheria, dysentery, smallpox, or malaria while you’re gone and dies, leaving your child alone?
It’s important to understand that we celebrate the Revolutionary War as Americans because we were successful. If the effort had been a failure, what do you suppose would have happened to the people who stood up against England? Going up against the most powerful, best equipped, best trained, professional army in the world with a bunch of untrained, poorly equipped, like-minded men from the colonies, are you willing to die in the war, or get wounded and likely die from infection, after the “surgeon” removed your leg without any anesthesia? Perhaps you don’t see much action during the war, but you must stay with a group of men who are encamped in a place called Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during the winter where food has run out long ago, Continental soldiers boil their shoes to chew the leather, you walk around on bloody cloths wrapped around your feet, and wonder how you’ll make it through one more night with temperatures dropping to below 10 degrees, and you’re “sleeping” on a thin blanket inside your tent which is on the frozen ground and snow; men around you are dying from starvation, frostbite, etc.
As popular an idea as it may be today for us to think, “Yeah, I would have definitely been one of the Patriots,” we have to remember that at the beginning of the conflict, at least 1 out of 5 colonists remained loyal to the English government and another 2 out of 5 tried to remain neutral – staying out of the whole thing. The remaining 2 out of 5 were willing to make the sacrifice, say goodbye to their wife and baby who would have to fend for themselves, face the likelihood of losing the war and being hung as a traitor, killed in action, starvation, exposure, disease, amputation and a painful lingering disease from blood poisoning.
Few of the men who signed the letter we call the Declaration of Independence fought in the war. Still, those 56 men had a very realistic picture of what would happen should the effort fail. The last line of the Declaration illustrates this: 
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

In contemporary language, here is what they are saying: 
To show that we’re willing to stand by this decision to leave England and take whatever steps, including war, are necessary to win our independence, 
with our belief in God’s protection, 
we promise together, to 
give up our life – if necessary
give up whatever personal savings or property we own, 
give up any future hope of respect from others
Remember, this was a letter which was sent to the Parliament of England and King George III. The letter didn’t go there unsigned. The men signed their names, clearly identifying each person. It would be no secret who the leaders of the colonies were. Should the cause fail, these men would be singled out as the primary traitors of the rebellion and punished as an example to the colonies – which would mean hanging.

Let’s examine the text of the actual document and paraphrase it. Why take the time and effort to do so? Because the Declaration of Independence was not only intended for the times of 1776, it is considered to be a Charter of Freedom for our country both then, and now. It serves both as a reminder of why we became a country as well as a guiding force defining the purpose of government and what the people should do if there is government corruption.
Thomas Jefferson was the delegate who did most of the writing of the Declaration of Independence and generally gets credit as being the Father of the Declaration. The Second Continental Congress appointed a committee of five men to draft a letter to England. This committee include Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and John Adams. It is unknown how the format was determined, but Jefferson was given the task of drafting the letter, after which, the committee reviewed it and made revisions. Once revised, the declaration was presented to the other members of Congress, and the delegates then debated the exact content for several days. (Chapter continues)