Independence Day (an annual repost with edits).

Some may wonder what the real significance of July 4th, or Independence day is to the world, let alone the United States.

The 18th century was known as the Age of Revolutions, and for good reason. It was ended, really, with the Russian Revolution of 1917, but there were revolutions throughout the Western World in the century starting in 1775, indicating the ascendancy of the believers in Natural Law and the ascension of the promoters of this humanistic view, the “philosophes”.

For the first time in history, there was talk among intellectuals of “human rights”. Not the way we know them now, but that mankind had certain rights which could not be proscribed by legislatures, let alone kings.

More directly the entire concept of “divine rule” of a monarch was thrown into dispute and the idea that G*d had granted to man certain rights and that there were also natural laws or “laws of nature” that had to be obeyed were new and revolutionary.

These ideas had been fomenting and had been written about all over the world. They can be seen in the writings of Locke and Rousseau. Jefferson himself had written down many of the same ideas in his Constitution of the state of Virginia and Adams had copied them for Massachusetts.

But what separates the American Revolution was the writing of Thomas Jefferson.

The Declaration of Independence, heavily edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and truncated by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, is considered by most historians to be the pre-eminent document of the “Age of Enlightenment”.

It is brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s execution.

“We hold these truths to be self evident…”

No need for discussion, all intelligent gentleman now understand that these truths are, and of right , ought to be, shared by all (white men, of course).

“…that all men are created equal”

No longer were there serfs and a monarch, but rather gentleman, all of whom had a right to express their opinions.

“…that they are endowed by their creator with rights…”

Rights are divinely granted but of this earth.

Below are the words that this country was founded upon.

Go to UShistory dot org to also read Jefferson’s original version, his draft. You will see how the beauty was crafted, and the parts that, had they been allowed to remain, would have changed history.

Most important among these edits was the dis inclusion (the editing out by vote of the Continental Congress) of the following passages dealing with slavery. In order to ensure a unanimous vote, the bloc of Southern States demanded it’s removal:

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 to slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable
death in their transportations 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
determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold
this execrable commerce ^ and that this assemblage of horrors might
want no fact of distinguished die

(Ironic that I wrote this 4 years ago for the first time. I think Michelle Bachmann ought to point this out to George Stephanapolous).

Read it, and appreciate it again, and the men and women who have died to protect these words and what they mean.

Now the text of the Declaration:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with 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 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. 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.

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.

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.

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 invasions 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 invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has 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.

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.

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 Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring 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.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken 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 insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured 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.

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.

Nor have We been wanting in 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.

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 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 connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to 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.

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