Remember When …



Why do we celebrate July 4? The Revolutionary War had not ended, but the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 people on July 4, 1776 and was adopted by Congress (we had 13 colonies and no longer under British rule).

This agreement was just the start of our American Constitution, like the Articles of Confederation, The Bills of Rights and the Amendments. Each state is independent and sovereign. The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of our country”, to govern the leaders and to protect us “We the People.” The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and all the Amendments are our written agreements to define it.

According to the dictionary, a Constitution is: “Establishing, or setting up an ordinance, an agreement; a promise, basic principles or laws of a group.”

During the Revolutionary War in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed but the war kept going until 1783. The constitution was signed by 38 delegates in 1787 but was not ratified until 1791.



The War of 1812 and the Civil War 1861-1865 were also working towards all American people’s freedoms, (equal rights for all), and not to be taken over by the government, ever again.

WWI was about world peace and Veterans Day was after World War II fighting stopped. Communication was so much different back then, to tell the world the war had ended and what the results were. After each war there was supposed to be a peace agreement like the one in Paris treaty after the Civil War. Some wars do even show the end date, because it was really a stalemate and no one won.

Why did people want leave Europe to come, to seek a new country between 1492-1690? Exploration of new land, freedom from tyranny, inventing new things and freedom not to bow down to the government, but to their God (which is freedom of religion). Being able to take care of their own families, own land, without having to be taxed so much to pay for the ruler of the day.

The first European American colony was in 1607 in Jamestown (King James approved it) to start a new place away from the rest of the world. But there were many different people groups that lived here long before the ice age separated the land.

Michigan has been a state since 1837, but it wasn’t so easy to get there with having to give up the trade on the Toledo Strip, from Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean instead got the Upper Peninsula.

In 1805 Michigan became its own Territory but by the time of the War of 1812 the British were trying to take it over again. There were many agreements made but many changes since the first written agreement of our government guidelines.

All the cities in Genesee County started out with a written agreement from a territory, settlement, village to a city. We all have a governing body to help the people be safe and establish rules to live by.

The City of Burton will be 50 years old, July 1, 2022; we were Burton Township 1855-1972. As the territories were handed out in our country, settlers bought land (or given land for their service in a war), before we became a state.

The Atherton family came to America from England to Massachusetts then to Michigan then to where Burton is now, the Atherton Settlement in 1834 and made it a settlement by 1835. Three Atherton Brothers and a nephew, Pliny Skinner, finished it by the fall that year. Thirty family’s lived on the settlement on Thread River.

As we celebrate this Independence Day remember the sacrifice it took to get here.

Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email