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The Patriots and the Traitors on the Fourth of July, 1776

Declaration of IndependenceContrary to popular belief, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, were not great Americans. They were instead great Englishmen. They were as much English citizens as you and I are American citizens. They were English citizens living abroad in lands under British jurisdiction, much like American citizens living in Puerto Rico.

Why is that important?

It is easy for a modern-day American to convince himself that those men in 1776 were taking a stand against the wrongful acts of some foreign regime. Not so. These were men who were taking a firm stand against the wrongdoing of their own government. That was a dangerous thing to do because their government—the British government–considered them to be terrorists and traitors. That’s the way most governments view citizens who take a stand against the wrongdoing of their own government.

I, on the other hand, consider those men to have been patriots, precisely because they had the courage to take a stand against their own government’s wrongdoing and especially since they knew that taking such a stand could lead to such punishments as torture, incarceration, or death at the hands of their own government.

Have you ever wondered on which side modern-day Americans would fall if they were somehow transported as British citizens back to the British colonies on July 4, 1776?

Would they side with those who standing with their own government, notwithstanding its wrongdoing?

Or would they side with the revolutionaries who were standing against the wrongdoing of their own government?

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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