As we celebrate Independence Day Monday, it’s evident that 246 years after the colonies declared their freedom from British rule, the only tyranny that continues to threaten us is our own. It has been that way since the country’s beginning, even though popular culture portrays the colonists as having greeted the Declaration of Independence with united jubiliation. That was never the case, particularly on the Eastern Shore, where many people remained fiercely loyal to the crown until the end. The disagreement between Loyalists and advocates of revolution was not about tea, taxes, or royal tradition, but which form of rule — the dictates of Parliament versus a somewhat democratically elected government — best reflected their cultural ideals and offered them the most advantages personally. And so it has remained from the day nation-building began to our current times, as citizens and politicians have devoted two-and-a-half centuries to the battle over whose definition of freedom will be imposed on the other. The tactics haven’t changed much either Almost immediately at the end of the war, for instance, New Jersey gave women and African-Americans the right to vote. But in 1807, after political bosses blamed this group for their election losses, the state’s legislature stripped them of that right in an “election reform” measure tied to accusations of voter fraud. These arguments over the extent of individuals’ rights and personal liberties have always been part of the package, with the most extreme participants in this conflict putting democracy itself at risk. Under these circumstances, it would be wise to recall the words of women’s rights advocate Abigail Adams, who advised her husband, President John Adams, “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.” With that in mind, the best way to celebrate our independence is to remain that way by doing whatever we can to protect our form of government from those who would do things differently if they could.