Louise M. Gouge
What a neat coincidence that my turn to blog this month falls on July 4, Independence Day! Why is that a coincidence? Well, I’ve been blogging here about the various branches of my ancestry, and for some time, I had planned to discuss my English heritage this month. As we all know, two hundred and thirty-seven years ago, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Thirteen American colonies were severing forever their governmental ties with England and declaring themselves the United States of America.
Unlike some of my family branches, my English lineage is well-documented. In 1665, an Englishman named John Jacob came to the Maryland colony as an indentured servant. We have the family tree that descends from John to my generation, including the approximate date (mid-1700s) when the name was changed to Jacobs (my maiden name) during the lifetime of one Jeremiah Jacobs. Some time ago, I found Jeremiah’s Revolutionary War record. Yea! I have bona fide Patriot in my ancestry! Long before July 4, 1776, Jeremiah was already in the militia, and he quickly joined the war effort on the American side.
Talk about internal conflict! I wouldn’t want to be anything other than an American citizen, born and bred, but I also love my English heritage. I loved my one visit to England, loved touring a real English castle, and wouldn’t mind being a main “upstairs” character in Downton Abbey. But I also love my freedom as an American, I love that this still is the land of opportunity, and I am beyond proud of my American heritage. My gratitude to John Jacob knows no bounds. He sold himself into indentured service so he could come to the colonies and establish a new life for himself and his posterity. My pride in Jeremiah for fighting to sever our bondage to England is over the top.
As a college English instructor, I have my students read the Declaration of Independence every semester because we must never forget how we got our freedoms and the right to become whatever we dream and work to become. Just listen to these remarkable 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. (Read the entire text here: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html)
In 1776, those were truly revolutionary words, revolutionary ideas. The Old World (Europe) was ruled by kings who considered themselves endowed by their Creator with a divine right to rule. Today the United States of America is a beacon of freedom to the entire world, and we must stand with all the Johns and Jeremiahs and Molly Pitchers who fought to make this possible so we can perpetuate our freedoms for future generations. May God bless America! The land of the free and the home of the brave!
The third part of my coincidence today is that I have a new book release. A Lady of Quality is set in Regency England. Yes, my main characters are wealthy aristocrats and nobles, but don't think these people didn't have their own struggles. Catherine Du Coeur is determined to uncover the truth about wealthy Lord Winston, who falsely accused her father of treason. But the closer she gets to the handsome young nobleman, the more she wonders how such a benevolent gentleman could have conspired to commit such evil. Baron Lord Winston has had little success in finding an accomplished aristocratic bride who is suited to his diplomatic aspirations. But when he meets Miss Du Coeur, a countess’s lowly companion, he finds that family connections are far less important than matters of the heart.
Do you have a special Fourth of July story? Leave a comment and be entered in my special drawing for a copy of A Lady of Quality. Entrants must be residents of the United States or Canada and must follow the rules and laws of their own state or province regarding giveaways such as this.