The annual pleasantry: Udo J. Keppler (1872-1956), from Puck, v. 61, no. 1582, 26 June 1907 (Library of Congress)
Let us look at this American artist first. How did he ever get to America, to start with? Why isn't he a European still, like his father before him?
Now listen to me, don't listen to him. He'll tell you the lie you expect. Which is partly your fault for expecting it.
He didn't come in search of freedom of worship. England had more freedom of worship in the year 1700 than America had. Won by Englishmen who wanted freedom, and so stopped at home and fought for it. And got it. Freedom of worship? Read the history of New England during the first century of its existence.
The pic nic on the Fourth of July. A day to be remembered: Lilly M. Spencer, engraved by Samuel Hollyer, 1864 (Library of Congress)
Freedom anyhow? The land of the free! This the land of the free! Why, if I say anything that displeases them, the free mob will Iynch me, and that's my freedom. Free? Why, I have never been in any country where the individual has such an abject fear of his fellow countrymen. Because, as I say, they are free to Iynch the moment he shows he is not one of them.
No, no, if you're so fond of the truth about Queen Victoria, try a little about yourself.
Those Pilgrim Fathers and their successors never came here for freedom of worship. What did they set up when they got here? Freedom, would you call it?
Inaugurating the glorious Fourth: C. S. Reinhart, from a sketch by H. N. Cady, in Harpers Weekly, 13 July 1878 (Library of Congress)
They didn't come for freedom. Or if they did, they sadly went back on themselves.
All right then, what did they come for? For lots of reasons. Perhaps least of all in search of freedom of any sort: positive freedom, that is.
They came largely to get away -- that most simple of motives. To get away. Away from what? In the long run, away from themselves. Away from everything. That's why most people have come to America, and still do come. To get away from everything they are and have been.
Fourth of July parade at Takoma Park, Maryland, 1923: photographer unknown (National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress)
Independence Day: Udo J. Keppler, from Puck, v. 63, no. 1635, 1 July 1908 (Library of Congress)
D. H. Lawrence: from Chapter 1: The Spirit of Place, in Studies in Classic American Literature, 1923