We Hold These Truths . . .

“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

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.“

— The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Irvine as an elected representative on the Irvine City Council.

It is to the people of Irvine that I owe my best efforts, my best judgment, my faithfulness, and my sole allegiance.

I am keenly aware that our enjoyment of the unalienable rights spoken of in our Declaration of Independence are hard-won by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who have served and sacrificed for this nation.  It is them that I owe my freedom, my citizenship in this great nation, and my ability to serve the people of Irvine.

On this July 4th, I celebrate our City, our State, and our Nation, and those who have served and sacrificed to keep us free.

Happy Independence Day!

We Hold These Truths . . .

“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

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Irvine as one of their representatives on the Irvine City Council.

It is to the people of Irvine that I owe my best efforts, my best judgment, my faithfulness, and my sole allegiance.

I am keenly aware that our enjoyment of the unalienable rights spoken of in our Declaration of Independence were hard won by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who have served and sacrificed for this nation.  It is them that I owe my freedom, my citizenship in this great nation, and my ability to serve the people of Irvine.

On this July 4th, I celebrate our City, our State, and our Nation, and those who have served and sacrificed to keep us free.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Constitution Day!

screen-shot-2013-09-16-at-6-29-04-pm The United States Constitution was signed by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 229 years ago today on September 17, 1787.

On February 21, 1787, Congress called on each state legislature to send delegates to a convention “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation in ways that, when approved by Congress and the states, would render the federal constitution adequate to the  exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.”

To amend the Articles into a workable government, 74 delegates from the twelve states were named by their state legislatures; 55 delegates showed up, and 39 delegates eventually signed.

The Preamble of this history-changing document makes clear why it was written: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

d5073bb68808c8dd92cbcefedb2da43e

As United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, explained, “What makes the Constitution worthy of our commitment? First and foremost, the answer is our freedom. It is, quite simply, the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed. It’s also the world’s shortest and oldest national constitution, neither so rigid as to be stifling, nor so malleable as to be devoid of meaning. Our Constitution has been an inspiration that changed the trajectory of world history for the perpetual benefit of mankind. In 1787, no country in the world had ever allowed its citizens to select their own form of government, much less to select a democratic government. What was revolutionary when it was written, and what continues to inspire the world today, is that the Constitution put governance in the hands of the people.”

It is of the nature of constitutions that their meaning evolves over time and in newly encountered situtions.  As UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in the University of Chicago Law Review, “[t]he Constitution inevitably must be interpreted. There are countless issues — such as whether the president can fire cabinet officials or rescind treaties or assert executive privilege — where the document is silent, but a constitutional answer is necessary.  So much of the Constitution is written in broad language that must be given meaning and applied to specific situations. . .”

It is my hope that one day soon the Supreme Court will recognize that in order to ensure and protect our democracy, we must get unlimited and unaccountable money out of politics, and that there must be limits on the amount of money that individuals, corporations, or other organizations can spend to support or attack political candidates or to influence government policies.

It is my hope, too, that one day soon the Equal Rights Amendment will be adopted so that women will at long last be accorded full and equal rights in the United States.

In fact, our Constitution provides the means to make these changes and improvements in our government and our political process.

Our Constitution remains our best hope of “We the People” forming an even “more perfect Union.”

July 4th: The Truths We Hold

DeclarationIndependence.01 (2)

“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

— That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    —  The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

July 4th: The Truths We Hold

Declaration of Independence, melissafoxblog, Melissa Fox, melissajoifox, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine City Council

“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

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men

deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

On Flag Day – Remembering Betsy Ross

Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissajoifox, Melissa Fox blog, Irvine Commissioner Melissa Fox

The story goes that Betsy Ross, a young widow, made the first American flag in June 1776 after a visit from General George Washington.

Besty’s grandson was the first to tell this story in recollections published in 1873.  He claimed that in June 1776, George Washington, Robert Morris, and her husband’s uncle, George Ross, visited his grandmother in her shop in Philadelphia. The men had brought a rough sketch of a striped flag with thirteen stars in a blue field. The stars had six points. Having a better idea, Ross folded a piece of paper into neat triangles, and “with a single clip of the scissors” produced a five-pointed star. Within days, the story goes, Betsy Ross had completed the first American flag.

Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissajoifox, Melissa Fox blog, Irvine Commissioner Melissa FoxToday most scholars agree that it was probably not Betsy Ross who made the first “Stars and Stripes” American flag. However, Betsy was without dispute a flag-maker who, records show, was paid by the Pennsylvania State Navy Board in 1777 for making “ship’s colours, &c.” Despite the lack of evidence for the story for which she is known, Betsy Ross was also certainly a patriot, as well as an example of what many women of her time audaciously and courageously endured, and her story and her life are stitched into the fabric of American history.

Born on January 1, 1752, Elizabeth Griscom, called Betsy, was the eighth of 17 children born into the Quaker family of Samuel and Rebecca Griscom. Her father was a successful carpenter, who moved his large family from their farmhouse in New Jersey to Philadelphia when Betsy was three years old.

After completing her formal education at a school for Quaker children, Betsy went on to apprentice to John Webster, a talented and popular Philadelphia upholsterer. She learned to make and repair curtains, bedcovers, tablecloths, rugs, umbrellas and Venetian blinds.

While apprenticing to Webster, Betsy fell in love with a fellow apprentice named John Ross, the son of the Assistant Rector of Christ Church. Betsy’s family did not approve of her relationship with an Anglican or marrying outside their Quaker faith. On November 4, 1773, Betsy and John eloped. Despite being cut off from Besty’s family, the newlyweds prospered, soon opening their own upholstery business.

Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissajoifox, Melissa Fox blog, Irvine Commissioner Melissa FoxThey were married for just over two years when their union was tragically cut short. John Ross, a member of the local militia, passed away, leaving Betsy a widow at the age of 24. Betsy continued to run her upholstery business, making extra income by mending uniforms and making tents, blankets, cartridges, and, of course, flags for the Continental army.

On June 15, 1777, Betsy married her second husband, Joseph Ashburn. Joseph was a mariner and was often at sea, leaving Betsy, a new mother, alone in Philadelphia. In 1780 a British frigate captured Joseph’s ship. The crew was charged with treason and taken to Old Mill Prison in Plymouth, England. While Ashburn was imprisoned, his and Betsy’s first daughter died at only nine months old and their second daughter was born. Joseph died before the British released the American prisoners in 1782.

Later in 1782, still grieving from the death of her first child, Betsy was visited by an old acquaintance named John Claypoole. He was a fellow prisoner and close friend of Joseph Ashburn. John was there to bring Betsy the news of her second husband’s death. Betsy learned that she was once again a widow at the age of 30. John Claypoole and Betsy rekindled their old friendship and were married on May 8, 1783.

Betsy had a lengthy marriage to John Claypoole, but this relationship was not without its struggles and tragedies. The couple had five more daughters together, but only four of them lived to maturity. In 1793, Betsy’s mother, father, and sister died within days of each other from the yellow fever, leaving Betsy to raise her niece. In 1812, Betsy and John’s widowed daughter Clarissa moved into their home with her five young children and a sixth on the way. Once again, Betsy had a full house of children to care for. The children were not the only members of the household who needed Betsy’s attention. For nearly 20 years, John Claypoole was disabled as a result of his Revolutionary War injuries. He died after a lengthy illness in 1817.

Following John’s death, Betsy continued her successful upholstery and flag-making business with the help of her daughter Clarissa. After over fifty years in her trade, she retired at the age of 76.

By 1833, Betsy was completely blind. She spent the last three years of her life living with her daughter Jane’s family on Cherry Street in Philadelphia. With family present, Betsy Ross died peacefully in her sleep on January 30, 1836. She was 84 years old.

Even if Betsy did not make the first flag — even if the visit by George Washington never happened — Betsy Ross was an example of what many women of her time found as their reality in time of war and revolution: marriage, widowhood, single motherhood, managing her household and business, caring for infants and invalids, and a deep involvement in and commitment to her community and nation even while being denied many of the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote.

Her life represents a triumph of determination, optimism and patriotism during the formative years of our country.

On this Flag Day, she is a woman worth remembering and worth celebrating.

For more information, a great place to look is The Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.  A recent well-reviewed book about Betsy Ross is Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller.