Posts Tagged ‘4th of July’

No Fuss Fourth of July Fruit Salad

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

With the 4th of July right around the corner, many of us are thinking of which red, white, and blue themed recipes we will be making.  And, if you are like me, you want a recipe that is simple to prep, and does not involve too much time in the kitchen.  Less time in prep mode equals more time spent with friends and family on this fun-filled holiday!  To aid you in your search, here is an extremely simple July 4th themed fruit salad for you to make and enjoy:

Bananas, Strawberries and Blueberries, oh MY!What you will need:

Note: this recipe can be scaled up or down to suit your needs

  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • A handful of raspberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bananas, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon or orange (optional)
  • 2 tsp. juice of 1 lemon or orange (optional)

To assemble the fruit salad, place all of your prepped fruit in a bowl to fit.  Next, sprinkle the zest and juice on top.  Using a serving spoon or rubber spatula, gently mix the fruit until well coated with the zest and juice.

Remember, it is always a good idea to wash fruit before chopping.  What better way to celebrate summer colors than with this bright colander?  And, when serving your Fourth of July treats this year, or any year, don’t forget to grab your themed napkins!

We the People – The US Constitution

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Ben Franklin PrintThe “United States” was in turmoil. The states were hardly united. The Continental Congress printed paper money, which was so depreciated that it ceased to pass as currency, spawning the expression “not worth a continental.” Congress could not levy taxes and could only make requisitions upon the States.

John Adams went to London in 1785 as the first representative of the United States. But he failed to secure a treaty for unrestricted commerce with Britain. Demands were made for favors and there was no assurance that individual states would agree to a treaty. Adams stated it was necessary for the States to confer the power of passing navigation laws to Congress, or that the States themselves pass retaliatory acts against Great Britain. Congress had already requested and failed to get power over navigation laws. Meanwhile, each State acted individually against Great Britain to little effect. When other New England states closed their ports to British shipping, Connecticut hastened to profit by opening its ports.

Political unrest in several states and efforts by debtors to use popular government to erase their debts did not help. The apparent inability of the Congress to redeem debts incurred during the war, or to become a forum for productive cooperation among the states to encourage commerce and economic development, only aggravated a gloomy situation. In 1786-87 Shay’s Rebellion, an uprising of farmers in western Massachusetts against the state court system, threatened the stability of state government.

Ben Franklin PrintMost of Shay’s compatriots were poor farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes. They attempted to prevent the courts from seizing property from indebted farmers by forcing the closure of courts in western Massachusetts. The rebellion started on August 29, 1786, and by January 1787, over 1000 Shaysites had been arrested. A militia that had been raised as a private army defeated an attack on the federal Springfield Armory by the main Shaysite force on February 3, 1787. There was a lack of an institutional response to the uprising, which energized calls to reevaluate the Articles of Confederation.

The idea of a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation grew in favor. Alexander Hamilton believed a strong government was necessary to avoid foreign intervention and allay the frustrations due to an ineffectual Congress. Hamilton convened the Annapolis Convention in 1786 to petition Congress to call a constitutional convention to meet in Philadelphia to remedy the long-term crisis.

And so, twelve states, Rhode Island being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified that its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention decided to draft a new fundamental government design. Article VII of the proposed constitution stipulated that only nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect.

Several ideas in the Constitution were new, and a large number were drawn from the literature of Republicanism in the United States, the experiences of the 13 states, and the British experience with mixed government. The most important influence from the European continent was from Montesquieu, who emphasized the need to have balanced forces pushing against each other to prevent tyranny. British political philosopher John Locke was a major influence, and the due process clause of the Constitution was partly based on common law stretching back to The Magna Carta (1215).

Presidents PrintThe US Constitution was born of two plans. The Virginia Plan was the unofficial agenda for the Convention, and was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be “The Father of the Constitution” for his major contributions. It was weighted toward the interests of the larger states, and proposed among other points:

  • A powerful bicameral legislature with a House and a Senate
  • An executive chosen by the legislature
  • A judiciary, with life-terms of service and vague powers
  • The national legislature would be able to veto state laws

An alternative proposal, William Paterson’s New Jersey Plan, included the following points that countered the previous proposal that favored larger states, among others:

  • A unicameral legislature with all states represented in equal numbers in order to insure fairness
  • An executive branch appointed by the legislature
  • A judicial branch appointed by the executive

Roger Sherman of Connecticut brokered The Great Compromise whereby the House would represent the people, a Senate would represent the states, and electors would elect a president.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed. The Convention submitted the Constitution to the Congress of the Confederation, where it received approval according to Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation.

Once the Congress of the Confederation received word of New Hampshire’s ratification, it set a timetable for the start of operations under the new Constitution, and on March 4, 1789, the government began operations.

The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today.

George Washington PrintBetsy Ross Print

A Present for the States – A Rope of Sand

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Declaration of IndependenceAs we continue the count-down to American Independence Day 2010 (July 4th, 2010), here is another article about the founding of our country.

The Articles of Confederation were commonly referred to as “a rope of sand” – meaningless and useless. However, would a rope of sand be preferable to what some founding fathers felt would be the alternative, a “rod of iron?” And how long did the Articles of Confederation last?

“To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.”

Well, that sounds pretty good. Presents? No, not exactly. Rather, that is the first sentence of the preamble to one of the first governing documents of the United States – the Articles Of Confederation.

On June 12, 1776, a day after appointing a committee to prepare a draft declaration of independence, the Second Continental Congress resolved to appoint a committee of thirteen to prepare a draft of a constitution for a confederate type of union. The last draft of the Articles was written in the summer of 1777 and the Second Continental Congress approved them for ratification by the States on November 15, 1777, in York, Pennsylvania after a year of debate.

God Bless America PrintThe Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, customarily referred to as the Articles of Confederation, was the first constitution of the United States of America and legally established the union of the 13 states that had declared independence from Great Britain. The ratification process was completed in March 1781; legally federating the sovereign and independent states, already cooperating through the Continental Congress, into a new federation styled the “The United States of America.” Under the Articles, the states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the central government.

The Articles set up a national legislature that could raise an army and navy, declare war and negotiate treaties, borrow and coin money, run a postal system, and handle relations with Native Americans. The single-body Congress under the Articles of Confederation comprised the entire national government. There was neither an executive nor a judicial branch. In fact, in November 1777 the draft of the Articles that the Continental Congress submitted to the states for ratification specifically rejected a plan for an executive.

The Articles of Confederation provided instead for a “Committee of States” to “execute in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States, in Congress assembled, shall by the consent of nine states, from time to time, think expedient to vest them with.”

Declaration of IndependenceUnder the Articles, the president of the Continental Congress was simply the presiding officer of the legislature and had no executive functions. The importance of the office can best be described as a clerk, designated to perform his duties. Presidents served one-year terms, and they were usually men whose talents matched their limited powers.

Perhaps one of the more vocal opponents to this constitution was none other than George Washington. While calling on Congress to regulate military and monetary affairs, for example, the Articles of Confederation provided no mechanism to force the states to comply with requests for troops or revenue. At times, this left the military in a precarious position, as George Washington wrote in a 1781 letter to the governor of Massachusetts, John Hancock.

In September 1783, George Washington wrote to George Clinton, complaining:

“Congress have come to no determination yet respecting the Peace Establishment nor am I able to say when they will. I have lately had a conference with a Committee on this subject, and have reiterated my former opinions, but it appears to me that there is not a sufficient representation to discuss Great National points.”

Another army general frustrated with the lack of funding was General Henry Knox. He wrote to Governor Morris of Pennsylvania:

“As the present Constitution is so defective, why do not you great men call the people together and tell them so; that is, to have a convention of the States to form a better Constitution.”

This sparked a great debate in American history over the role of government. Next time – The Constitution of the United States.

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