The Fourth of July this year, as everyone in Connecticut who has tolerated the weather the past few days well knows, was wet. The weather, along with fidgety concerns about the effect of fireworks displays on an apparently violated environment, have thrown cold water on John Adams’ view of a proper celebration of independence.
“The Second Day of July 1776,” Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on the occasion of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival [of Independence] …It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
The official celebration of Independence on July 4, pedants will note, is off by two days.
The weather did not matter on this July 4, as the Blake Center for Faith and Freedom, an offshoot of Hillsdale College in Michigan, celebrated the real founding in 1776 of the United States of America. All the fireworks were inside the center in Somers, Connecticut.
My wife Andree and I were in attendance and found the building itself, a brick by brick recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, astonishing, along with the company in attendance, a crowd of people who draw comfort and illumination from the founding fathers of the country, the Executive Director of the Blake Center Labin Duke, and the two speakers – Hillsdale professors Thomas West and David Azerrad, who operates out of Hillsdale’s Washington D.C. campus – who shed illumination, if not pomp, on the subjects they chose to present.
The first speaker, West, the author of The Political Theory of the American Founding; Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom, limited his remarks to a discussion of the foundational understanding of modern views concerning the odd shape of our post-liberal foreign and domestic policy. What would the founders, for instance, have thought of an interventionist foreign policy – that is, an activist foreign policy in which one nation imposes its political views upon another?
Most of them would have felt, as John Adams did, that “America is the friend of liberty everywhere, but the custodian only of our own.” And then too, there is Washington, the weld of the American Revolution, warning his fellows to avoid “entangling alliances.”
The second speaker, David Azerrad, ventured into our current Marxian inflected mare’s nest – are we all racists?
The short answer is no, although there continues to exist in our relatively racist free society some real racists who continue by their morally offensive and unorthodox behavior to prove the rule that the United States has left racism behind us. Such obnoxious idiots might well profit from a Hillsdale education and a careful reading of the Declaration of Independence, written chiefly by Thomas Jefferson -- “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” -- himself a slave owner.
That declaratory bit concerning “natural rights” having been authored by the Christian God who endowed mankind with “certain unalienable Rights,” among which are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” is the wooden stake thrust into the heart of a vampire-like slavery, done to death in a union shattering Civil War watered with the blood of patriots at Shiloh and Gettysburg.
The founder of Friendly’s, S. Prestley Blake and his wife Helen, at first sold the property to a buyer, later repurchased it and then more or less gifted it to Hillsdale in 2019.
In a short four years, The Blake Center for Faith and Freedom has become, its patrons realize, an inestimable pearl of wisdom located providentially on the border of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
We should count ourselves lucky – though the center itself regards such “luck” as providential – to have in our presence such a pearl buried deep in an ocean of muddy neo-progressive nonsense. And all of us know for a certainty that no one may reach the pearl without a deep personal dive into history, the U.S. Constitution, the deposit of Christian faith and morals, and the luminous writings of honored precursors of the American experiment in ordered liberty.