Many of us think that on July 4th, 1776, the Founding Fathers woke up and said, let’s write a Declaration of Independence and go to war with England.
The reality is far different.
From the time of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770 to July 2, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was agreed upon and signed, there was a long series of events leading up to the American Revolution. Not all agreed with declaring independence from England. John Dickinson, a Quaker, opposed independence due to his religious beliefs. However, despite his refusal to vote for and sign the Declaration of Independence, he fought vigorously in the war effort. Caesar Rodney rose up from his death bed and rode his horse all night to cast the deciding vote for Delaware.
There was a series of grievances sent to King George, and each response was greeted with an iron fist by the British monarch. The king’s indifference became so self-evident that Dickinson, who could not bring himself to vote for Independence, came to terms with both his religious beliefs and the need for war by being absent on July 2, the day of the vote.
The founders explored all options before finally declaring independence. While there is so much more in the Declaration of Independence, there are a few things that I want to talk about in there. It’s also a good opportunity for you to take the time to refamiliarize yourself with it.
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
Key words “Endowed by their Creator.” We think that because we are American, we have rights. The truth is, our Rights exist because we were born. Rights are given to us by God and he gives those same rights to every human being. Governments can not grant rights, they can only protect or infringe on those rights. This is a very important thing to recognize. Some people may see the end of the civil war as the moment slaves in America were given their rights, but that’s not the spirit of the Declaration. It holds that their rights already existed but were being infringed upon. If you don’t think of rights as things which come from God, then you start thinking of rights as privileges and you won’t see the infringement of rights for the evil that it is.
The great civil rights leaders, from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King, were persuasive specifically because they appealed to the spirit of the Declaration. Their arguments surrounded the belief, universal in America, that our central founding document was divinely inspired and captured the truth about America as an exceptional place – and that it wasn’t the American founding which was flawed but rather our execution of its principles which needed some perfecting. Majorities of Americans were thus persuaded and they were successful in making us a better country.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
We’re seeing several examples of the Biden administration, and Democrat elected officials at federal, state and local levels, not enforcing laws, from Mayorkas continuing to allow people across the border, murderers not being prosecuted, and rioters not being tried. Laws, especially those meant for the general safety of the public, are not meant to be used for political purposes. Our Founders would be horrified at the two-tiered justice system we’ve allowed to develop.
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.
This is why the Veto override is given to the legislature or why passed bills become law if the President does not veto with a certain time frame.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Court stacking has become an issue with the Biden administration as he seeks to load more people onto the Supreme Court
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
This line was one of the first things that I memorized from the Declaration of Independence. It struck me that we have bloated our government, the people pay for it, and that bloated government limits what we can do. While I don’t necessarily see this as an issue of any single presidency, it’s important to note that as government gets bloated, liberty is lost.
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
This is a line that up until this point we did not seem to have to worry about, but as many elected officials use the power of their office to prosecute political enemies instead of actual criminals, this becomes more alarming.
And finally this passage which did not make it into the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, but it is importantly nonetheless.
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
When Thomas Jefferson was a student at William and Mary, a professor named George Wythe convinced Jefferson that slavery was indeed wrong. While it is true that Jefferson held onto his slaves until his death, he did attempt to abolish slavery in the Declaration of Independence and communicated with William Wilberforce in his eventually successful quest to abolish slavery in England.
I have heard on recent occasions that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. This simply is not true. While Virginia and Georgia were willing to move forward with that clause in the DOI, South Carolina demanded that clause be taken out of the Declaration of Independence or they would not vote for Independence, thus breaking unanimity. They could have stayed under English rule and kept slavery and would not fight for Independence if it meant they were to fight for the end of this evil institution.
It is not my goal to defend or prosecute the Founders in this, rather, to let the facts speak. The Declaration of Independence is not that long and one should familiarize himself with it, including Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution isn’t as simple as “taxation without representation,” and understanding why they fought for Independence keeps one from falling victim to misinformation. My hope is that you don’t take my views as absolute truth, but rather, begin your own quest into learning American History. Truth don’t fear the lies, but liars try to bury the truth.