Declaring Liberty throughout 2019 and Beyond
Written by: Steven Grant, Executive Director
One of the things I love most about the city of Philadelphia is how many original historic sites a person can visit. Independence Hall for one, which stands as the iconic symbol of America’s founding. Perhaps less widely known but also essential to America’s story is Carpenter’s Hall, only a few block’s away from Independence Hall. We could also mention Christ Church, the original Supreme Court Building, Congress’ Hall, Betsy Ross’ home, the First and Second National Bank Buildings, George Washington’s headquarters at Valley Forge, and some others. Of course, a visit to Philadelphia would not be complete without seeing the actual Liberty Bell!
Among all that is still standing, there are many places identified that used to be there. For instance, we know where Benjamin Franklin and William Penn’s homes were located. We also know where the first Executive Mansion was located. This was the President’s home occupied by George Washington and John Adams while they served as President of the United States before the capitol was moved to what is now known as Washington D.C. Historians have also identified where the Aitken Bible was printed, the first Bible printed in the United States. This Bible was officially endorsed and recommended to America’s citizens by the United States Congress.
Located behind the United States Mint is the site where a Lutheran Church once stood. It was there that the national memorial service for President George Washington took place and where Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s famous eulogy was read which included the memorable words, “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” There are also exact reconstructions of some very important places such as the Graff House where Thomas Jefferson wrote his draft of the Declaration of Independence, and my favorite restaurant, the City Tavern, where the delegates to both the Continental and Constitutional Congresses would adjourn for further discussion and good food after official sessions.
How is it that we have such a wealth of historic treasures and knowledge of a bygone age? How is it that with all the urban transformation which has taken place that we have such a reservoir of resources for remembrance and historic study? As in many cities, many structures are lost over time and the memory of such things can fade away as the years go by. A heritage of brick and mortar as well the memory of stories and accounts of what took place in countless neighborhoods and public places can easily be lost as each generation passes away. Some areas in cities today look nothing like they did one hundred years ago and few people may even realize it, or perhaps even care! A whole heritage of life and the memory of the people who lived it can disappear so quickly, and the lessons they teach are lost as well.
How is it that we have retained the treasures we do have? It is because of the diligence, hard work, research and advocacy of the few dedicated people who cared enough to commit to the preservation of our heritage. Because of their efforts, our generation is the beneficiary. Now It has been entrusted to us to be good stewards of this heritage so that we can pass it on for the next generation.
But this responsibility is not only applicable to places. This is also true of the values, worldview and the principles upon which our nation was founded. With the changing of our nation’s fundamental worldview and cultural trends of our current age, we can just as easily lose the principles that birthed and developed this great nation. We can lose our nation’s soul just as we can lose an historic building or the memory of its location. The principles of Providence, liberty, unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, religious freedom, virtue, family, industry, personal responsibility, and so much more can be easily traded for self-indulgence, a prevailing sense of entitlement, moral anarchy, statism, and a growing culture that denies the place of our Creator and replaces Him with idols of all sorts. Unless there are people who are equally, if not more, dedicated and committed to the preservation of the principles upon which this country was founded and in preserving historic buildings and places, this nation that was once “under God” will morph into something unrecognizable by our Founders, at our peril. What is the value of Independence Hall if no one truly understands that what went on inside of that building makes it so important?
This is the mission of The Providence Forum. We are a group of people who share that same dedication and commitment to America’s character and example to the world. What makes America exceptional and still represents the hope of freedom and justice in the world must be taught, preserved and defended before modern cultural forces erode it away. Many people have joined us in our programs, teams and production of materials and we invite others to get involved as well in this essential and exciting work. Many people have been extraordinarily generous in sharing their resources to keep this work moving forward. We invite you to invest in America’s future by supporting the work of the Providence Forum so that we may continue to boldly “declare liberty throughout the land.”