1300 words that shook the world

posted at 10:30 am on July 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

It was the ultimate act of defiance of its time, a statement to a presumably divinely-appointed monarch from his supposed subjects that they had decided to reject his authority.  The world had seen rebellions against monarchy before, but usually on the basis of rival claims to the throne, or on religious principles more than political.

On July 4th, 1776, Great Britain’s colonies united not to depose a king but to declare him irrelevant to their land, and to make the clearest declaration in history of the right of a people to self-governance.  It not only argued that the abuses declared in the document gave the 13 colonies the right to cut ties to their mother country and its monarch, but also made an argument against all monarchies and dictatorships in its explicit reliance on the natural rights of all people for freedom.  Indeed, the Declaration of Independence made the point almost immediately that the entire notion of divine appointment to hereditary rule had no basis, as all men are created equal. And not just monarchs either, but also tyrants, despots, and those who put any class of people above another without the consent of the governed.

While many of the founders of the new nation that affixed their names to this document failed to consistently live up to that ideal, they lit a flame that burns to this day — and that still makes tyrants quake with the implication of these 1300 words from the 13 colonies.

Happy birthday, America.  May these words continue to ring in all the corners of the world with the same force.

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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Comment pages: 1 2

That line about “not putting any other class above another” was clearly a lie and Ed knows it. No need to whitewash the truth.

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Whitewash?????

Racist…

Khun Joe on July 4, 2010 at 4:14 PM

Quick, put up some billboards purging the words “Creator, “God” and “Divine Providence” from the Declaration!

That’ll teach those wingnut Founders!

/s

mankai on July 4, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Y’all have a very happy Independence Day!

And you -

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Stop trolling.

Ryan Anthony on July 4, 2010 at 4:39 PM

The Magna Carta

The Declaration of Independence

The Constitution of the United States

The Gettysburg Address…

Words to live by.

turfmann on July 4, 2010 at 10:39 AM

I concur.

The only problem is Jefferson plagiarized John Locke (kidding).

Cr4sh Dummy on July 4, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Happy Birthday America. Semper Fi Marines.

BKeyser on July 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

That line about “not putting any other class above another” was clearly a lie and Ed knows it. No need to whitewash the truth.

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM

*SIGH*

He also said…..

While many of the founders of the new nation that affixed their names to this document failed to consistently live up to that ideal, they lit a flame that burns to this day

It’s something we ALL need to strive for, and over time, I’ve seen great achievement in this. Don’t whine about it…set the example.

capejasmine on July 4, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Happy birthday to the great lady. May she regain her greatness and live quite a bit longer, as she ideally intended to, will all her fleas.

Narutoboy, you have no grace.

Schadenfreude on July 4, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Happy Birthday to the greatest country in the world.

CWforFreedom on July 4, 2010 at 8:18 PM

That line about “not putting any other class above another” was clearly a lie and Ed knows it. No need to whitewash the truth.

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Let me quote a teacher you dislike.

“Take the log out of your eye before trying the take the splinter out of the eye of someone else.”

In your case the log is a several thousand foot redwood.

chemman on July 4, 2010 at 8:22 PM

Anyway….

What makes the United States the greatest country on the face of the earth is that our government is based on the truth that, as the Declaration of Independence says, human and individual rights come from our Creator and not a king or a government. Our liberty is inexplicably tied up in our Creator and his love for us in that he grants each one the right to life, liberty and ownership of private property (pursuit of happiness).

John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

“(This) day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Amy Proctor on July 4, 2010 at 8:27 PM

In your case the log is a several thousand foot redwood.

chemman on July 4, 2010 at 8:22 PM

I’ve never legislated the ownership of human beings.

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 10:21 PM

How ironic that you could substitute most of Obowma’s policies for King George’s policies:

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.

among others….

We are living a tragic time in America unless we turn to God for deliverance. May God bless America.

dthorny on July 4, 2010 at 10:28 PM

While many of the founders of the new nation that affixed their names to this document failed to consistently live up to that ideal…

For some reason we always feel the need to apologize for our nation whenever we are about to praise it. I’ve never heard any people from any other nation ever do that.

JellyToast on July 4, 2010 at 11:33 PM

If I allow someone to be raped now because I know the rapist will die naturally tomorrow, I still just allowed a rape to occur. So the answer is yes. And I doubt all founding fathers held an anti slavery position. They were like most Americans. Some supported it. Some were against it.

That is why I’m more kind with the founders than I am Southerners. Slavery was brought over from England. The founders, albeit just for one people, still expanded rights when they founded this nation.

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Rape is an individual act, slavery was an institution practiced by lots of people. There is a crap load of difference.

If the Founding Father’s went on an Anti-Slavery Crusade, the South would never have joined the Rebellion and the Cause would have been lost.

The issue of slavery is not as cut and dry as you paint it. The first legally recognized slave in the United States was owned by an African-American. One of the richest slave owners was black. The super large plantations of hundreds of slaves is a myth.

What would you have the South do? End Slavery? Free all the Slaves? You should really think about the ramifications of such a decision. Southern Cotton production by the 1850s was about 75 percent of the world cotton production, around the time of the revolution it was about 1/3rd of World Cotton production. And Southern Cotton was used in the North to make clothing, sails and other products. Take 1/3rd to 75 percent of supply of a commodity away and imagine the market impact across the board.

A sudden end of slavery, wasn’t going to happen. It could not. Would you give up 75 percent of your accumulated wealth and 75 percent of your income?

Holger on July 5, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 10:21 PM

I’m embarrassed for you. You never miss an opportunity to run your breathtaking ignorance up a flagpole thinking others will salute. How perpetually disappointed you must be.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 7:24 AM

JellyToast on July 4, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Exactly. I am at the point where I will refuse to acknowledge any of it.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 7:25 AM

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 10:21 PM
I’m embarrassed for you. You never miss an opportunity to run your breathtaking ignorance up a flagpole thinking others will salute. How perpetually disappointed you must be.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 7:24 AM

The first part of his name is a cartoon. The second is a reference to childhood. I would assume we have a young person in age and/or wisdom who is blinded by the ideology of our time. Someone who thinks he’s profound and innovative, but is simply spouting a packaged blend of moral relativity, politial correctness, and secular humanist, anti-religion bias.

It’s so predictable, Naturoboy. I’d love to watch you grow up a bit here, but all I see is endless trolling, even on the most innocuous posts.

It’s sad, really.

Grace_is_sufficient on July 5, 2010 at 8:25 AM

For those who criticize this great document I can only say, try to write something better. Even today with all the knowledge of what has transpired in our history, I see no better document written by anyone alive today. Thank God for the brave men who saw the future of this great country, a future of which we have been given custody, to keep or to waste.

afotia on July 5, 2010 at 8:37 AM

How ironic that you could substitute most of Obowma’s policies for King George’s policies …

dthorny on July 4, 2010 at 10:28 PM

Actually, someone tested this idea to the limit recently:

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/06/27/

manwithblackhat on July 5, 2010 at 9:11 AM

How ironic that you could substitute most of Obowma’s policies for King George’s policies:

News is on in the background, talking about the Federal government suing to stop AZ’s law. And I was thinking the same thing as I read the list — some of these apply to our current prez on the issue of border security:

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 excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers

CJ on July 5, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Happy July 4th, people!

dogsoldier on July 5, 2010 at 11:42 AM

A sudden end of slavery, wasn’t going to happen. It could not. Would you give up 75 percent of your accumulated wealth and 75 percent of your income?

Holger on July 5, 2010 at 12:22 AM

I wouldn’t build my wealth off the backs of, literally, other human beings.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Of course not. You, in fact, have shown no evidence of ever doing anything except stand outside and throw rocks from a position of safety, provided to you by those you criticize. When have you ever risked everything for anything? Until you have, you are in no position to criticize those who have because they don’t meet your ideas of how things should have been.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Until you have, you are in no position to criticize those who have because they don’t meet your ideas of how things should have been.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Is this sort of like one of those, if you haven’t experienced it, you can’t speak about it arguments?

I’m perfectly OK with criticizing those who enslave others.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 1:06 PM

No, it isn’t. I hope you learn reading comprehension in college.

DrMagnolias on July 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Find a country that doesn’t have some form of slavery in its history… then show the nations that were willing to have hundreds of thousands die and millions wounded to end it (almost all of whom had nothing to gain from their sacrifices).

mankai on July 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

PS: Boats, trains and planes are leaving this horrifying death camp everyday… I hear Mexico has great weather in the winter.

mankai on July 5, 2010 at 3:03 PM

I wouldn’t build my wealth off the backs of, literally, other human beings.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Sure. Keep thinking that. Try to be a commercial farmer of Sugar, Cotton, Tobacco or Indigo without using slavery. You would last one season, your product would be too expensive to sell.

Imagine all the agricultural products that were married to slavery (cotton, Tobacco, Sugar, Indigo among others) and tell yourself you will have nothing to do with anything manufactured from slave products on your quest to wealth…

You can’t even ship those products or manufacture those products into other products.

Your chances of making it? Near nil.

Holger on July 5, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Find a country that doesn’t have some form of slavery in its history… then show the nations that were willing to have hundreds of thousands die and millions wounded to end it (almost all of whom had nothing to gain from their sacrifices).

mankai on July 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Shhh! The hicks Southern conservatives don’t like it when you claim the Civil War was fought to end slavery.

Holger on July 5, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Your argument is crap. People to this day still struggle to make it. That doesn’t excuse them for deciding to use child slaves, or adult slaves, to get the work done faster.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 6:01 PM

The Southern conservatives don’t like it when you claim the Civil War was fought to end slavery.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Actually I watched an African American guy make the state’s rights claim on Hannity and Colmes (sp?) a couple years ago.

I always laugh when I hear that. It demonstrates some fundamental ignorance of history, since the principal state’s right at issue was in fact the ownership of other human beings.

They African American guy was a hard lefty, btw.

dogsoldier on July 5, 2010 at 6:36 PM

After a glorious day full of heart-rending patriotism and fireworks yesterday, I woke with this tune in my heart.
Helped me get through alot of today’s blogs/posts.

SOMONE hears us calling.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC57xs85aYM&feature=related

pambi on July 5, 2010 at 11:27 PM

Narutoboy on July 4, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Hey dumazz. Learn some history before spouting off on slavery in America. There were FAR more slaves sold to Portugal, Spain and the West Indies than in America. American slaves numbered around 100,00 to 200,000 while MILLIONS were sent to Portugal, Spain and others countries.

By the way, you EVER wonder who originally sold these slaves? That was the real crime, so blame African slave traders.

dthorny on July 5, 2010 at 11:52 PM

I’m perfectly OK with criticizing those who enslave others.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Ok. Let’s see something negative about Obowma enslaving American taxpayers for their wealth and redistribution to the lazy liberals.

dthorny on July 5, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Your argument is crap. People to this day still struggle to make it. That doesn’t excuse them for deciding to use child slaves, or adult slaves, to get the work done faster.

Narutoboy on July 5, 2010 at 6:01 PM

In other words. I don’t like being told I am wrong, so screw you. Stay classy race baiter.

Holger on July 6, 2010 at 2:43 AM

Comment pages: 1 2