In honor of the Fourth of July weekend, we’d like to take some time and reflect on the leaders that created this country—and the reason that we get a three-day weekend.
Notice I didn’t say “fearless leaders.” That is an important distinction. The truth is that the founding fathers were terrified of what was going to happen after the Declaration of Independence. They could be charged with treason, hanged, tarred and feathered, stripped of their land and titles, forced into servitude, or executed for their disloyalty to the mother country. Our founders, however, faced those punishments and took a risk. They knew in their guts what needed to be done for the wellbeing of their followers, recognized the potential consequences, and released their trembling shot into the dark.
Catherine Drinker Bowen, author of Miracle at Philadelphia, highlighted that these men were indeed unsure and terrified as they began their campaign to free America from Britain. Using excerpts from their personal diaries and other historical documents, Bowen presents the writers of the Declaration and the Constitution not as untouchable super politicians, but as real human beings who were trying their best to create a positive change for those around them. The founders were real people who were no closer to godliness than any other human being—they felt pain, sadness, anxiety, and insecurity.
It is in these pages that I realized that the founding fathers were leaders to a caliber that is few and far between today. They were so selfless, so willing to put their own lives in danger for those who followed and depended on them. These men are a perfect example that fear doesn’t make you a bad leader. What makes someone a bad leader is succumbing to fear. Great leaders charge on in the face of adversity and refuse to allow fear to incapacitate them. Where would we be if our founding fathers had shied away from their challenge? We wouldn’t be getting a three-day weekend, that’s for sure.
This Fourth of July lets take the time to honor those leaders who battled their fear and put everything on the line for the betterment of their followers. I’ll raise a lemonade to that.