Letter: Know your history

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To the Editor:A recent letter to the editor from Manchester's GOP chairman criticized Michelle Obama for telling a group of naturalized citizens that none of our founding fathers were "born American — they became American."The author stated "The true facts are that in Philadelphia [then the capital of the United States] only eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were not born in America. Ben Franklin was born in Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison were born in Virginia, and John Adams was born in Massachusetts in addition to 43 other American born signers." He then closed by adding "Surely our First Lady should have known this as a Harvard Law graduate, or maybe not."It doesn't take Harvard ability to know from middle school history that America wasn't a country before our 1776 Declaration of Independence from England. It was a loose collection of colonies ... which were ruled by the king of England.When Franklin was born in Britain's Pennsylvania colony in 1706 he was a fully fledged English citizen. His parents were both English citizens. Jefferson, Washington, Madison and Adams all could claim English citizenship having at least one English parent and birth in any of the 13 English colonies. Statehood did not exist when our founding fathers were born. One example of "born American" versus "became American" the GOP supports is that no person born in Laredo or San Antonio before 1836 started their life as a Texan. They were born there as Mexican citizens. Mexico, like England in our Colonial era, owned and ruled those locations for centuries. Only by winning the Texas War of Independence could those residents qualify as Texans. Interestingly, if any one of those prewar settlers returned back to life here today, they couldn't even get registered to vote solely on their citizenship papers.Our founding fathers were not born American. They proudly became American after fighting and dying for freedom. Philadelphia was not the 1776 United States capital. America had no capital when the Declaration was signed there. It became our first capital in 1790 — seven years after the Revolutionary War ended. In closing, it used to be required that those in leadership positions to use facts when speaking for their organization. Not so much now. If the Manchester GOP hopes to earn respect from cross-party voters, one great place to start is by promoting accurate, not alternate American history. John MarkleWest Rupert


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