Tonawanda News

Columns

July 3, 2013

DUVALL: This Independence Day, take the long view of history

Tonawanda News — As we approach the annual summer celebration of our nation’s founding with a round of hot dogs, beer, fireworks and a day off from work I thought it might be beneficial to take a look back in history as a guide for how to interpret some of today’s thornier political issues.

Something of a cottage industry has popped up in trying to diagnose and fix what seems to be a polarizing political environment that produces little by way of tangible results and even fewer things everyone doesn’t dislike.

The U.S. House of Representatives can’t seem to agree on much besides renaming the nation’s post offices. Seriously, if you look at the congressional record renaming post offices dominates legislation that passes the House these days. Pretty soon we’re going to run out of post offices — or the entire postal service, for that matter — and then congressmen are going to have to move onto naming new official U.S. things. Do we have an official tree? A particularly patriotic insect or agricultural commodity? 

I have a feeling we’ll find out soon enough.

Let’s take a trip back to our nation’s infancy. Everyone more or less seemed to like George Washington. He was a respected, nonpolarizing figure and just the sort of guy we needed to ensure our nation’s first president wasn’t removed at musket-point a few weeks after taking office by the second president.

After Washington it went downhill rather quickly in the camaraderie department. 

John Adams, our second president was rather famously at odds with his successor, Thomas Jefferson. They said things about each other — and to each other — that would make Sean Hannity blush (assuming he’s still warm-blooded). 

And so we fast-forward to July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after Jefferson, Adams a bunch of other white guys we’ve all but forgotten and John Hancock with his crazy John Hancock, signed the Declaration of Independence.

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