The real fireworks are in the principles! We hope that everyone takes time today to read and ponder the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. It is, in the humble opinion of this author, the greatest thesis statement on the Proper Role of Government thus far known to mankind.
The Declaration simply states that:
“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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” (underlines added)
These principles were the intellectual foundation which gave the Revolutionary era and the founders of this country direction and unity of purpose! Two founders in particular heavily influenced the wording and philosophy found therein. They are Samuel Adams (as can be found in his essay The Rights of the Colonists, read here), and George Mason (as can be found in The Virginia Declaration of Rights, read here).
Thomas Jefferson stated that it wasn’t his intent to “...find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent…[The Declaration] was intended to be an expression of the American mind…All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right…”
So the question now is: Are the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence still an expression of the American mind? It is up to us to give these principles meaning in our time as they did in theirs! Since the power is in the people, we are the only ones to blame for a government out of harmony with it’s entire purpose! Ultimately, it is up to us.
Ask yourselves what your grievances are. Ask yourself what you can do to pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to this “holy cause of liberty.”
Read the Declaration of Independence here.
Read Thomas Jefferson’s original rough draft of the Declaration here.
To read an article on a few of the Basics of the Declaration of Independence, click here
To read the article entitled: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – Interconnected, Inseparable, and Timeless; Why ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ instead of ‘Property’?” click here.