Curt Smith: How Indiana is preparing to mark major milestone

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Curt SmithAs we turn the page on a new year, a significant anniversary comes into sharper focus: July 4, 1776.

We are now less than 30 months from the 250th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. That document—at the heart of America’s unique founding—marks a seminal achievement in the history of freedom.

To prepare Indiana for this significant milestone, the Hoosier-based not-for-profits Remnant Trust and Sagamore Institute are joining together to create a number of celebrations around significant events in the birth of American independence. To this partnership add a robust collaboration with the state’s 250th anniversary commission—created by the Indiana General Assembly—and Indiana is off to a good start to lead the nation.

The kickoff was Dec. 12 in the Indiana Statehouse as we marked the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. We call it IN250. Come to our website, IN250.org, regularly for updates and lists of statewide events.

These celebrations and observances will capture the larger conversation about freedom and individual dignity that brought forth one of the most consequential and eloquent statements regarding the human condition:

“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.”

Many experiences and ideas went into this world-changing statement in one of the most impactful moments in human history. IN250 will be your guide to the 250th celebration of this legacy as we approach July 2026.

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, whose two primary editors were John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, the declaration combines the thoughts and writings of philosophers and thinkers as diverse as John Locke and Aristotle. Yet it focuses intensely on the grievances of the colonies relative to the crown. Well over half of the declaration lists the offenses cited to justify the sharp separation from England.

The document also deftly draws on the Divine without drawing on sectarian language. It declares “their Creator” and “nature’s God” as the source of life, liberty and freedom to pursue personal fulfillment. God is the source of our right, not government. Yet had it declared that Divine as Yahweh (Jewish) or Jesus (Christian) or Allah (Muslim), a national creed would have been established.

Important to understanding the declaration is the essential context of its creative and consequential times. As the declaration was being drafted, Mozart and Beethoven were making some of the finest music over an ocean and a continent away. The improved Watt steam engine was placed in an industrial setting—an English coal mine.

The moral philosopher Adam Smith published “Wealth of Nations” in 1776, giving rise to market economics rather than mercantilism as the basis of trade and commerce. And a church founded in London, Holy Trinity Church, would nurture the Clapham community that would go on to end the slave trade in England and then abolish slavery throughout the British Empire.

These times have important Indiana ties as well that IN250 will illuminate. For example, in 1779, Gen. George Rogers Clark defeated the British at Fort Sackville (now Vincennes) in a rare Revolutionary War battle on the Western frontier.

IN250 will help draw out these and other aspects of America’s founding, including the less savory elements of our history.

Follow this effort through IN250.org and commit now to celebrate the coming semiquincentennial (yes, that’s the official term) by deepening your knowledge of and appreciation for what the American founding means for all our citizens.•

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Smith is chairman of the Indiana Family Institute and author of “Deicide: Why Eliminating The Deity is Destroying America.” Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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