When great minds gather, things change. Academic and intellectual rebellion is a given. The status quo starts to bend. The pen, they say, is mightier than the sword, but without the gun, America does not stand. With the gun, the status quo breaks.
Names forever burned in history. The great luminaries, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, speaking words that will echo for as long as mankind is capable of thought. The great diplomats, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, whose success at enlisting French and Spanish aid lent credence to American ideals as international enterprises. The father of the Constitution, James Madison, whose ability to think beyond himself led to a governing document replete with both conservative and liberal values. The great soldiers, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who knew that without armies of men willing to die, the hopes and dreams of an infant nation would amount to little more than a stillbirth.
This great experiment, this persistent drama of the world's stage, Act I in humanity's next great play. Fostered not just of American thought, but of French, of Dutch, Spanish, Polish, and Prussian. Even British. Philosophies of Locke and Rousseau come to life, philosophical seeds watered with the blood of the Patriot, the militia, and the regular. Revolutionary, yes, and Civil. The very definition of American. A Republic from a monarchy, a Congress from a Parliament. Great minds capable of governing themselves.
"... and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America."
Thousands of names forgotten, or simply unlearned. John Hancock is little more than a signature, Sam Adams little more than a beer, Ethan Allen little more than a chair. Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Huntington, Nathanael Greene, and 25,000 of those who chose to take up arms. What did they fail to do in order to be remembered with the names of others?
This great experiment, borne of war in April of 1775. The first wading step into the Rubicon. A swimming thought unsure where to make landfall. The bold John Paul Jones sailing to England itself. Montgomery's charge into Canada. Great feats propelling and propelled by the ramblings of thoughtful men in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York. An unlikelihood in Saratoga creating waves in Paris. This great experiment, "in the way you shall think most proper," and "the shot heard 'round the world."
When in the course of human events, after all. Liberty is not free. It requires a pen and a gun. Let us hope the pen remains loud and the gun remains silent.
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
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