Paul Horton: The Real Meaning of July 4

America under Trump has betrayed the promise of the American Revolution.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Paul Horton teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School.

He writes:

Creating a Commonwealth: July 4th as a Concept

For most Americans July 4th is a celebration of American Independence. It is a day of music, fireworks, and grilling. We are bombarded with empty rhetoric about freedom from civic boosters who never learned much history. Many embrace a narrow version of American exceptionalism that claims that Americans are God’s chosen people and that the Declaration of Independence is a divinely inspired document.

Many of those who support our president believe that the Revolutionary war was fought over an effort to reduce high taxes. But this view is very short-sighted as historians from Jill Lepore to Gordon Wood have made clear.

The Declaration was written to gain the diplomatic recognition of France and other states that were hostile to the British global empire. The war had already begun, and…

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