Ours is the Greatest Story Ever Written

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Ask practically any American this week about their country, and they will likely tell you that – despite its faults – the United States is the greatest nation on earth.

I would even take it a step further by saying the United States is the greatest country there is, ever was, and ever will be…

But then again, I'm a bit of a homer.

Maybe it was all those World War II movies I watched with my great uncle when I was kid. He was an old sailor who was big on Admiral "Bull" Halsey, and by extension, so was I.

Or maybe it's because I'm much older now, and I realize just how dark the world would be without her. That much I am sure of.

But what I love most about my country is that it was founded on the idea that all men are created equal and are born with unalienable rights – among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course, Thomas Jefferson put those words much better than I ever could some 236 years ago when he penned the Declaration of Independence.

What you may not know is that Jefferson was just 33 years old when he sat down to the task of writing one of the most important documents of all time.

Chosen by John Adams for his "happy talent for composition and singular felicity of expression," it took Jefferson 17 days to complete under the apparent constant harassment of horseflies from a nearby barn. Being mid-June in Philadelphia, it was also undoubtedly quite warm.

I often wonder what that must have been like, using only an ink well, pen, and candlelight at night. Did Jefferson know his elegant phrasing and high tone would go on to forever change the world?

What was it like, that moment when he scratched out the word subjects and replaced it with the word citizens?

Was it a slip from a lifetime of habit… or Jefferson's first recognition that the people of his cause were no longer subjects of any nation- but citizens of an emerging democracy?

Of course, historians will note Jefferson was not the document's only author; his version was only the rough draft. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Congress itself made numerous edits along the way, hurting Jefferson's pride immensely.

In all, Congress made 86 edits, paring the original draft down by almost a quarter to its present 1,337 words.

Not surprisingly, Jefferson insisted years later his original version was actually better. Writers are like that.

Even so, the final draft of the Declaration was approved on July 4th, 1776 – a date since recognized as America's official birthday.

A month later, on August 2, the physical document was signed by 56 men who sat down and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for a cause called freedom.

From that point forward, the die was cast.

And they – along with some other great men and their ragtag militia – managed to defeat the greatest power of the day, founding a nation the likes of which the world had never seen…

A nation that gave us people like Bull Halsey, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Elvis Presley and far too many others to begin to mention.

Words, indeed, are powerful things.

So as that flag passes me by in the parade tomorrow, I'll look at those stars and stripes and forget about the mess we're in.

Instead, I'll be thinking about Thomas Jefferson and one of the most famous phrases ever written…

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

Now that is something to ponder over an ice-cold beer.

Have a great Fourth of July!

Money Morning will be back in your inbox the first thing on Thursday bright and early.

Until next time,

Steve Christ, Managing Editor

Money Morning

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

  1. Rob Brown | July 3, 2012

    Quite scary that you actually believe what you're saying…

  2. JOHN | July 3, 2012

    Please leave Elvis Presley out of this article….Thank You

  3. Leo Laffitte | July 3, 2012

    Just a great comment Mr.Christ !

  4. van hoyweghen marcel | July 3, 2012

    doubled your money in 90 days ,i believe that have not or you need for kwowledge

  5. John | July 3, 2012

    As a guy proud to be British I wish you in the U.S. of A. a great July 4 th.
    It was a supreme honour to have lost our war with your great nation !
    It is important you guard the freedom you won and that of the free world.
    Have a happy day. Cheers, John.

  6. T. J. Kimsey | July 3, 2012

    Thank you……..that was GREAT !!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Joel | July 3, 2012

    Excellent

  8. fallingman | July 3, 2012

    Yeah, and now the USSA is just like any other country ruled by an oligarchy.

    Jefferson is rightly to be honored, but the experiment is over. It failed.

    Is this country still better than most? Sure, but that's because of the legacy of freedom. We're like trust fund babies living off the family fortune. Is this government better than some? Yeah, but only because until recently, there were SOME checks and balances on the abuse of power.

    Of course, trying to figure out which government is best is kinda like trying to identify the most honest man in a room full of thieves.

  9. John M. Weaver | July 3, 2012

    Steve Christ,
    Thank you so very much for writing the words about the greatness of our nation. They echo my thoughts and feelings so completely. It is time that all true citizens of the United States come together to bring about a return to the "greatness of our nation" which has been in a decline for the last 20-25 years. Hopefully your words will begin to bring about that resurgence by our fellow countrymen. Once again, I thank you for what you have written ("penned?)
    Most sincerely, John M. Weaver

  10. Tom Marler | July 3, 2012

    Well said, my friend….As I read your commentary, I could feel my patriotic pride swell…..
    "GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!!"

  11. john r ridings | July 3, 2012

    Happy 4th to all my colonial friends – but how come Elvis is mentioned in the same breath as the founders? Never mind, must keep my redcoat clean and powder dry, in case you need help from your British cousins.

  12. Ron Blakeman | July 3, 2012

    Its a Republic not a Democracy, well written otherwise.
    Ron in Alaska

  13. Nick Cooper | July 4, 2012

    Rob Brown I am with you 100% of the way. Good God ! That was the the most shmalzy, patronising, the most narrow minded, frankly puerile article that I have read coming from the "pen" of an educated and succesful adult in a very long time ! It was comparable to the outpourings of the newly politically aware early teenager and of the sort that, upon rereading before heading to college, will have the author cringing. If your output is targeting an international audience then maybe such introverted and unsophisticated pieces could be kept for home consumption and something- anything else sent out to your International audience.

  14. H. Craig Bradley | July 5, 2012

    Censor Out, Pick and Choose (comments to post). Is that Greatness ?? Not really, I'm afraid.

  15. MURRAY07648 | July 9, 2012

    With apologies to our firends from other countries, I recognize that Mr. Christ is primarily talking to Americans. Yes, the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy. Yes it has stumbled badly and gives the appearance of having lost its way. But it is not necessarily (yet) a failure as "fallingman" claims-or Rob Brown may believe. For the next few months (years?) I will hang on to the faith that there is still smoldering in this country's citizens a spark of that earlier inspiration that enabled a handful of politicians who did not much like each other to make a new beginning in the way a nation could be governed. And whose conception even today inspires respect and no little envy around the world. Surely this great accomplishment can be rescued yet! Albert Murray / July 9, 2012

  16. John M. Weaver | November 13, 2012

    Not my comments above. Just wanted to clarify for those emailing me.

    Another John M. Weaver

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