In 1776, the United States of America “officially” declared its independence from the British empire with a well-known document called “The Declaration of Independence“. Primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson, this document explains to the king of England why America wished to separate itself from British rule.
Unfortunately, most people who are familiar with it only know a very small part the document:
“We hold these truth to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..“
…and to many, the concept behind the Declaration of Independence and its significance has been lost…
With America being a part of the British Empire, many of the emigrants were familiar with English law. In England, people had representatives in the Legislature to represent their interests, and while the King of Great Britain was a part of that Legislature, his power was not absolute and his whims tempered. But in America, the King maintained an iron tight grip over the colonists and legal system; reducing them to little more than slaves.
As Thomas Jefferson opens this declaration, it is clear that negotiation time is over and that separation between Britain and America was imminent:
“WHEN in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.“
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable 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 of abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.“
Jefferson recognized that, from birth, all human beings, equally, struggle to survive and be free to do as they please. But an anarchy (or a total lack of government) establishes no law and order, thus, no justice and in lieu of government tyranny, people become victims of social or tribal tyranny.
The duty of any just government is to preserve and protect the lives and liberties of its citizens by establishing and enforcing laws; deriving its authority from the governed. To deny districts of citizens representation in the government to silence their grievances removes their liberties, their happiness, and eventually, their will to live.
When a government or representative becomes oppressive to the principles of life and freedom, it is the duty of the citizens to alter their representation or, in extreme cases, abolish it and create a new government, by the people, whose intent is to protect the lives and freedoms of its people.
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.“
Noting that there are many risks involved in abolishing an established government, Jefferson makes it clear that the decision for separation from Britain had nothing to do with the natural struggles required to survive in the colonies. This separation was declared on the grounds of being unable to make “just” laws in their own districts.
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, envinces 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. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.“
Unlike Britain, the King ruled America as a sole monarchy and up until this point, the leaders of the colonies had patience while trying to confer with the King with dealing with the consequences his persistent interference brought down upon them and their constituencies. Thomas Jefferson begins reciting a long list of grievances against (specifically) the King.
“He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.“
“He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.“
The King owned the governors and forbade them from passing any law without his prior consent, literally, ignoring representatives of the colonialists, refusing to consent to any legislation except his own.
“He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.“
The King used bribes to silence the masses by getting them to agree to forego having a representative present in the legislature. In exchange for their “silent loyalties”, certain districts of people gained rewards while others suffered.
“He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.“
“He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasion on the rights of the people.”
“He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.”
Representatives of the people who opposed a law or edict of the King would receive audience with his majesty in England where he would attempt to threaten, intimidate, bribe or disorient them. If this did not work, the King declared martial law on the offending district, dissolved and disbanded their representatives, and refused to allow them to choose other representatives in their stead. This left the colonialists with no protection from native invasions or from civil uprisings.
“He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws of naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.“
The King controlled migration to the colonies by declaring that non-British colonists had no chance of becoming American citizens, officially owning land, or having representation in the legislatures. This ensured that all the resources of the colonies remained, indisputably, the King’s.
“He had obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.“
“He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.“
The judges made available to settle disputes, hired and paid for by the King, made their judgements based upon the whims of the King,; rendering “justice” meaningless.
“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.“
“He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.“
“He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.“
America was a nation occupied by British armies whose soldiers had the legal right to walk into any home, eject the person(s) living there, take shelter in it for as long as they determined was necessary, and take any food or property they wanted as rations. Colonialist who objected to this invasion faced the rest of their property being burnt, beatings, and murders at the hands of the British army.
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
“For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states; For cutting off our trace with all parts of the world; For imposing taxes on us without our consent; For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury; For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretend offenses; For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies. For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments; For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”
“He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.“
This is NOT just a simple list of grievances, this is a listing of legislation (or laws) that the King had instituted by controlling the representative of the people in the legislature. On the surface, it looked as if the representatives and people of the districts favored these legislative acts as necessary evils, allowing the King the means to escape persecution for his treachery.
“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.“
“He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.”
Here, Jefferson compares the King’s despotic rule of the colonies to the barbaric dictatorships of the middle-ages.
“He has constrained out fellow-citizens, take captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.”
“He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.”
By law, the British army could draft any citizen, take them out of their homes, and use them to wage war against the native Indians or, even, their own brethren.
“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
Jefferson makes clear that they have approached the King, in an adult manner, to resolve these problems but the King acts like a willful child or spoiled prince, whose whims take precedence.
“Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.”
Even the British legislature had been informed of the King’s tyranny in America. But it, too, refused to get involved or speak out against the inhuman treatment of their own brethren.
“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 connections between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and 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.“
Read that again carefully, representatives of the United States government appealed to “the Supreme Judge of the world” or “God” to justify their action and relied on “Divine Providence” or “God’s activity in the world” for protection. The United States representatives knew this declaration meant war between the American colonies and Britain, they knew that this declaration would be met with overwhelming force, and they knew (no matter what particular faith they held to) that the only way they would be successful was if God, Himself, was on their side.
The rest is history, the Revolutionary War ensued and against all odds, by the Grace of God, the United States of America stands, to this day, as a sovereign nation.
A Change In Dichotomy
We, as a people, should never mistake or confuse inalienable human rights for civil or legal rights. Civil or legal rights are granted to the citizens of a country by their government. These rights, such as: health care, education, housing, and financial support, change as the representatives of governments change. An inalienable right refers to our, God-given, rights that He bestowed upon us; the right to live life using the free will that God gave mankind to choose between good and evil; thereby, in many ways, rendering unto God, what is God’s and rendering unto Caesar, what is Caesar’s.
This premise has been highly distorted, leaving people with the false impression that freedom and liberty include the social acceptance and legalization of “ungodly” behaviors. However, this declaration eludes to nothing of the sort, rather, it allows the people to exercise their free will to, collectively, choose between good and evil with officially elected representatives through the legislative process. The idea was, when presented with a clear choice between good and evil, that mankind would choose good over evil.
But evil is not always evident and, often, is packaged with the best of intentions.
During the civil rights movement, with the best of intentions, the FEDERAL government took control of the education process in the United States. Now, they, the revolving representatives of the FEDERAL government, control the curriculum and education process of an impressionable youth.
Representatives, who will insist that the Founding Fathers of this nation wished a complete and utter separation of Church and State. Representatives, who will deny that the representatives of the government, who signed the Declaration of Independence, mentioned God’s natural laws as reason for separation from Britain and that they believed that could succeed only by God’s divine intervention. Representatives, who do not have the morality or ethics to say “no” to the bribes of evil people intent on passing legislation against the will of the people they represent. Representatives, whose choice of educational curriculum denies it’s students purpose or meaning to their lives.
Perhaps it is time we asked ourselves, how can the representatives of this country preserve and protect our inalienable rights, liberty, and personal happiness while removing the very God, whom the Founding Fathers of this country, relied upon for the justification of human rights? How can the representatives of this country preserve and protect personal liberties and promote happiness while denying that free will, itself, comes from God? How can the representatives of this country preserve and protect it while trying to, simultaneously, usurp what is God’s?
Perhaps it is time to assert our right, as people of good conscience, to alter our government representatives and elect people who will redress the injustices done to God and our Founding Fathers.