Revolution and Civil War—The Unifying Fires of Liberty
The Articles of Confederation
Revolution is a serious, often bloody, business.
In 1776, July 4th was not a time of festivities and celebrations. It was a time of fear and great struggle.
There is dread and awful trepidation when people stand at the crossroads between liberty and despotism and determine they will live or die to be free. It is terrifying when a people resolve that a rebellion is the only coarse for them to take to stop the decline of their freedom.
On July 4th, 1776, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.
The sacred document, fully drafted and edited by the “Committee of Five” at the Philadelphia print shop of John Dunlap, printed Thomas Jefferson’s memorable words—based in large part on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason and James Madison—and dispatched hundreds of copies across the 13 colonies to newspapers, administrators, even to the military commanders of the Continental Army.
History refers to these copies as the “Dunlap broadsides”, and immediately the words of war caused a riot to develop in New York, the one dissenting state to adopting the document.
As the words of war inflamed the countryside, the firestorms of Liberty’s breath ignited the souls of the public servants and inspired the Continental Congress to frame another document, the Articles of Confederation. With the Articles, the words of war of the Declaration of Independence took the form of the United States Confederacy.
It would take five years of blood and war before the Articles of Confederation would be ratified, yet, through the Confederacy, Congress conducted the Revolution.
Through the Confederacy, the thirteen colonies became thirteen independent sovereign powers delegating certain federal powers to the Confederacy.
Out of the Confederacy, The Republic of the United States of America was born.
Civil War—Loyalists Versus the Patriots
After suffering through years of executive and judicial power abuse at the hands of the English Lords, the newly formed Citizens of the Republic were careful to strictly limit the power of the legislature.
Yet, a more pronounced distress lurked in the hearts and minds of the fresh and new citizens.
Their ideological antagonism and strife.
Liberty has watched over many civil wars.
It is the price of freedom that it breeds rivalry and clash.
So, during the specter of revolution against a mighty United Kingdom, a civil war ignited within the Confederacy.
The civil war between the Loyalists and the Patriots.
Because of fear, and many other reasons, the Loyalists believed that remaining loyal to the Crown was the best avenue for survival.
The Patriots did not agree. To them, bowing to any man, woman, or throne, was an affront to their right to exist as free people. Moreover, they dared to believe they were equals to a king.
After the war, John Adams estimated that 33% of the people favored independence, 33% opposed it, and the remaining 34% were either neutral, or had moral objections to the war.
It is logical to imagine the young Roman Republic, trembling in terror at the spectacle of warring against Hannibal’s diabolical cunning, and facing down extermination, also warring against themselves on how to conduct the war.
It is because of the fierce and violent flames that erupt from out of Liberty’s inferno that division so easily takes hold. Liberty is nothing more than a license to think individually, no matter what, and to question every idea, regardless who conceived it.
The Revolutionary War and the Punic Wars challenged Liberty, and each time, facing tremendous odds, Liberty prevailed.
But throughout the history of Liberty’s struggle to endure and tolerate the encumbrance of the oppressor, one element has remained.
In order to brave the monumental storms—internal and external—division has been the igniting fire of a free people.
Nevertheless, beneath the coals and embers of the fire of division, an even greater fire rages within the soul of the citizen of the Republic.
The fire of unity.
While freedom produces the courage to face up to the tyrant, it promotes an environment of contention and the flames of civil war.
In Publius: Libertas Aut Mors, a civil war between citizens is the central plot. The focus of the story’s conflict causes the lines to become blurred between protagonist and villain. All that remains are the apprehension and fear of citizens who believe they are fighting for the soul of a country they no longer can recognize.
If we are to remain divided by our ideologies and notions of governance, then so be it. It is our autonomous privilege.
However, if we are to brave the tempests that confront us, we must find a path within our hearts to bond and discover the unifying force that has always saved us in our darkest moments.
Only the magnificent creation of the Republic is able to protect and nurture Liberty’s flames of independence.
We are the lowly vessels who give life to this force and bring about its expression of freedom.
As in Publius: Libertas Aut Mors, if the United States of America is to survive the trials and tribulations afflicting it today, only the Republic can save it.
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