Don’t overlook Jacob Shallus this holiday

Published 2:39 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

By Bonnie Brown


Happy Fourth of July!  Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America.

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When I think about the true meaning of this American holiday, I realize that it is a celebration of our nation’s birth and coming together as Americans.  It seems we have forgotten this identity as Americans.  Sure, we as individuals define ourselves by culture, by religion, by color, by region—and in many other ways.  But as a nation, we seem to forget that we enjoy freedoms that many other countries are denied and that we have far more in common than we realize.  

Our country’s doctrine was shaped by 55 male delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention sessions and took nearly 116 days to draft the Constitution.  It must have been an overwhelming responsibility to compose a document intended to last through the ages.  The committee submitted the final draft of the Constitution to the delegates at the convention for approval on September 12, 1787.   

An interesting fact about our Constitution.  A clerk by the name of Jacob Shallus, a German immigrant, copied the Constitution into its final form, the version with which we are most familiar.  What might his thoughts have been about this document?  It is hard to imagine that this Assistant Clerk of the Pennsylvania State Assembly was unaware of the importance of his penmanship on this job since he died in 1796, well before the Constitution was recognized as the important document it is today.  I think it’s sad that his name doesn’t appear anywhere on the document.    

My personal thought is that the preamble (introduction) certainly sums up the mission statement of our government.  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  My interpretation is that we should all be united as a country and pass along these ideals to future generations.  

But are we passing these ideals along to future generations?  There’s so much crime and the “general welfare” of our nation seems in jeopardy with all the crime and division of our leaders and governing bodies.  The crime is driven mostly by greed and regrettably, our youth do not appreciate what it means to live in a country where our laws provide a handbook of how to live in a free nation.  Many of us seem to have forgotten what it means to be an American.  I for one desperately crave “domestic tranquility”!

We are free to speak our minds, to pursue our dreams, and to live in a country that provides us with choices and opportunities.  All we have to do is put effort into pursuing our dreams.  I know that sounds simple, and while it requires determination, it is achievable.  

So, on this Fourth of July, let us celebrate with cookouts, patriotic music, and gratitude that we live in this great country.  Let us strive to make our country stronger, our people more grateful and take pride in being an American!  And let’s think a kind thought for Jacob Shallus and his beautiful masterpiece.  Happy Birthday America!