Fishing America With Grandpa is an elementary level story which discusses the Bill of Rights, as found in the US Constitution. Chapter Two:Independence introduces the main characters to the US Declaration of Independence. Chapter two of my book, Fishing America With Grandpa, follows in anticipation of Independence Day 2016.
Chapter Two: Independence.
The boat glided gracefully along the smooth surface of the lake. Jimmy was at the wheel, while Tommy stood letting the wind race across his face as he held to the top of the windshield. The waters were so calm that there was neither pitch nor roll as grandpa proudly watched his two young master seamen.
Having come to a full stop, with anchor drop, even though there would have been minimal drifting, the anglers cast their lines among the grassy mat just peeking above the surface along the west shoreline.
The conversation started the same as it usually did with Grandpa asking the protégés what new things they had learned in school.
Tommy piped up first. “Grandpa, our teacher was telling us about The Declaration of Independence. It sounded pretty cool, but I didn’t think she really knew much about it.”
“Yeah, that’s right, Grandpa” chimed in Jimmy. “She wouldn’t answer any of my questions.”
“Well, now boys you two DO have a lot of questions. Maybe she didn’t have enough time.”
Tommy got a little more serious in his tone. “It sounded really important Grandpa. Will you explain it to us?”
“That is just what I was hoping you would ask”, the old gentleman grinned. The bass lines were left dangling as the eager young men hung on every world of their wise grandfather. “Let’s start by talking about our fishing trip this morning. We had to drive from our town and our county half way around the lake to get here. Now we have fishing licenses that we bought earlier this summer, at the little store by the dock. The government approves the sale of those licenses. The money supposedly goes for causes like making sure the fish supply is here for everyone to enjoy. We can fish and take home our limited number of bass which is the same as all the other fishermen. That is intended to be fair.”
“How would you feel if we got back to the dock and the sheriff was there asking us how many fish we caught. Jimmy, you would proudly show him your catch and I would explain we had caught only our limit. Then, Tommy, what if he asked where you lived.”
“I would tell him, Grandpa. It’s the right thing to do.”
“Yes, my boy it probably is the right thing to do”, smiled the family patriarch. “When he found out that we live around the lake in a different town from the county supervisor should that make much difference?”
Both boys quickly answered a somewhat confused “no”.
“Well, when the sheriff learned where we lived I know I would not be very happy if he then told me that I had to give him one of the fish I caught, so he could give it to his county boss. How about you,” he pressed on without taking an answer? “Then we would go to the county leader and explain that the lake served all of our little towns and we should not have to give up fish simply because we didn’t vote in his city?”
He continued, “then he might say that neither we, nor anyone we ask to represent us, would get to even talk to him about what’s right. Does that sound like the right way for you to be treated?”
This time there was a more understanding and an emphatic “no” in unison from both boys.
“I agree with you two wise young men. It is pretty evident that you understand what is fair and right.”
“But, grandpa”, Jimmy protested, “what has this got to do The Declaration of Independence?”
Be just patient for just a little longer the old man pleaded. Then he went on with his story.
“If everybody, except the people in his town, were treated like us would that be fairer.”
“Grandpa”, exclaimed Tommy! “Just because more people are also treated wrong doesn’t make the wrong treatment right.” Grandpa Don beamed with pride at his grandson. He saw some wisdom beginning to surface.
“Let me go just a little further with the story, boys. Let’s say that there were more people in the supervisor’s town than in all the other towns together. Just imagine if those people said we want this supervisor to be in power for as long as he wants, so they made him the ”supreme” supervisor for all time. I don’t think we would ever get the same amount of fish we caught as the amount of fish that people in his town caught. Tommy, what do think? Am I probably right? “
Tommy was thinking about it hard for a minute, when Jimmy inserted his opinion. “I don’t think he would be likely to change, Grandpa.”
“Yeah”, Tommy quickly agreed. “We have a teacher that sometime won’t let us go outside for recess, even if our work is all done. She says it’s because she is the teacher and gets to make the rules different everyday if she wants. That doesn’t ever feel like she is fair.”
“That’s just like the county supervisor”, added Jimmy.
“You boys are a smart pair. Yes, indeed you are.”
“One last thing about our fishing story. After a while all the smaller towns would decide together that they wanted to be a new county, with their own supervisor. Does that sound like a good idea? Silence ensued as both youngsters slipped into deep thought.
“Grandpa”, Jimmy finally said, “That would be a good idea if two things happened.”
Tommy jumped in “the first county supervisor would have to have a chance to act fair, right?”
“The second thing”, added Jimmy “is all the people would need to be told why we were making such a big change and promised that in the new county they would be treated better.”
“Wow!” Exclaim Grandpa Don. “You two boys are as wise as everyone thinks you are. But, let me tell you about the Declaration of Independence, but only if you promise to read it seven times and give me a report on what you learned.”
“During the almost three hundred years after Columbus discovered the American Continent on October 12, 1492 Britain ruled where we live. There were thirteen states or colonies as they were called in those days. King George, the third, was the king of England and Scotland. He also was the ruler of the colonies. King George and his supporters began acting like the county supervisor in our fishing story.
He treated the people of the colonies unfairly. He did things like taking extra fish and other goods from the colonies as taxes. He didn’t let the colonies have adequate representation (that means he didn’t let them talk to the government of Britain, just like the pretend supervisor of the county in our story).
After a long time of being treated unfairly the people of the colonies decided they didn’t want him for a king any more, but they wanted their own type of government. They did just what you two boys suggested. Because what was right then, is also right now, and you understand that. The colonies declared to the world what their intentions were and why.
When the thirteen colonies voted to no longer be under a government which mistreated them they all agree together. The Declaration of Independence says “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Unanimous means that all the states (or colonies) agreed, through their representatives. The representatives of the states were known as a Continental Congress. Congress simply meant to walk together. The states walked together in opposition to being under King George’s rule.”
‘Jimmy do you remember what you said about making a new county and what the people should do. I think your words were “all the people would need to be told why we were making such a big change”. That is what the thirteen colonies did. Listen to this explanation from the Declaration of Independence:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
‘Now, Tommy, I have not forgotten what you said either. The King, just like the county supervisor deserves a complete opportunity to change their treatment of others. I think your words were “the county supervisor would have to have a chance to act fair and right.” Here is what the Colonies said in The Declaration of Independence.
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
“when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…”
The King had been given a chance to change his behavior toward the colonists, but he didn’t. In fact the colonies had gone to war, known and the war of independence, to assert their claim of being treated fairly. The king chose, with support from other leaders in England, to not change.”
‘Jimmy I think it was you that also said “the people would need to be… promised that in the new county they would be treated better”. You were very right. But the states Declaration of Independence had more to do with how we are treated in all things, rather than just fishing. Listen to these important words.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed.”’
“Tommy and Jimmy”, remarked the now tired older man, “the understanding in those few words are what has made and still makes the United States of America a nation worth shedding tears of joy for, and if necessary the shedding of blood to maintain.”
“The Declaration of Independence, boys, is the single-most assertion among all the literature of the world that men are free to think and feel as they will, and to act however they may choose, so long as they do not violate the same liberty given by God to all men.”
“Tommy, you may be interested to know, if your teacher did not tell you, that the man given credit for writing the Declaration of Independence was also named Thomas Jefferson. Jimmy, one of the men close to him was name James Madison, whom also believed strongly in the Declaration of Independence.
Both eventually became Presidents of the United States of America, serving out their entire lives in the protection of the rights of all men. That is why we don’t need to fear too deeply our right to fish and keep that which we have rightfully caught.
Mr. Jefferson made this statement:
“May the Declaration of Independence be to the world, what I believe it will be…the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which … ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves… That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.”’
Boys, you live with a curiosity to know and understand so very very much. While other lesser men may want you to be silent I again encourage you to Fish America, and catch all that you can about what sets her apart from all other nations.
“Let’s go home”, said the precocious Tommy as he reeled in his empty line, “today was a good catch.”