Weekend: Something to Ponder Over an Ice-cold Beer

Brian Hicks

Updated July 2, 2011

Welcome to the Wealth Daily Weekend Edition — our insights from the week in investing and links to our most-read Wealth Daily and sister publication articles.

Ask practically any American this weekend about their country, and they will likely tell you that — despite its faults — the United States is the greatest nation on earth.

In fact I would even take it a step further by saying the United States is the greatest country there is, ever was, and ever will be…

But then again, I’m a bit of a homer.

Maybe it was all those World War II movies I watched with my great uncle when I was kid… He was an old sailor who was big on Admiral “Bull” Halsey, and by extension, so was I.

Or maybe it’s because I’m much older now, and I realize just how dark the world would be without her. That much I am sure of.

But what I love most about my country is that it was founded on the idea that all men are created equal and are born with unalienable rights — among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now that’s something worth fighting for.

Of course, Thomas Jefferson put those words much better than I ever could have on this day some 235 years ago when he penned the Declaration of Independence.

What you may not know is that Jefferson was just 33 years old when sat down to the task of writing one of the most important documents of all time.

Chosen by John Adams for his “happy talent for composition and singular felicity of expression”, it took Jefferson 17 days to complete the task under the apparent constant harassment of horseflies from a nearby barn. Being mid-June, it was also undoubtedly warm.

As a writer, I often wonder what that must have been like, using only an ink well, pen, and candlelight at night…

Did Jefferson know his elegant phrasing and high tone would go on to forever change the world?

What was it like, that moment when he scratched out the word subjects and replaced it with the word citizens? Was it a slip from a lifetime of habit… or the man’s first recognition that the people of his cause were no longer subjects of any nation — but citizens of an emerging democracy?

Of course, historians will note Jefferson was not document’s the only author; his version was only the rough draft. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Congress itself made numerous edits along the way, hurting Jefferson’s pride immensely.

In all, Congress made 86 edits, paring the original draft down by almost a quarter to its present 1,337 words.

And like any writer worth his salt, Jefferson insisted years later his original version was actually better. Writers are like that.

Even so, the final draft of the Declaration was approved on July 4th, 1776 — a date since recognized as America’s official birthday.

A month later, on August 2, the physical document was signed by 56 men who sat down and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for a cause called freedom.

From that point forward, the die was inevitably cast. And they — along with some other great men and their ragtag militia — managed to defeat the greatest power of the day, founding a nation the likes of which the world had never seen…

A nation that gave us men like Halsey, Patton, the boys of the Normandy beaches, and many others too numerous to mention.

Words, indeed, are powerful things. As an American, my personal favorite is freedom. (Though these days, I’d like to have more of mine back.)

While I know no nation is perfect, I also know America at least tries to get it right. That’s good enough for me.

So as that flag passes me by in the parade on Monday, I’ll look at those stars and stripes and try not to think about our broken government and the shambles created in recent times.

Instead, I’ll be thinking about Thomas Jefferson and one of the most famous phrases ever written…

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Something to ponder over an ice-cold beer.

As for some insight into some of the week’s best investment ideas, check out the most recent Wealth Daily and Energy and Capital articles, below.

Have a great Fourth of July!

Your bargain-hunting analyst,

steve sig

Steve Christ
Editor, Wealth Daily

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