Happy Independence Day!

posted at 8:11 am on July 4, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Two hundred and thirty-six years ago, a beleaguered but defiant group of men created the most magnificent declaration of liberty and human rights in history.  It changed the world forever, and ended the heretofore universal model of a permanent ruling class in favor of self-government.  Most scoffed at the grand experiment by these “Americans,” but in the end those men not only changed their own land, they changed the entire world.  Happy 236th anniversary to the Declaration of Independence, and to the United States of America:

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 harrass 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 benefits 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 Brittish 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.

Did these men understand the significance of their creation at the time?  A letter from John Adams to his beloved wife Abigail shortly after the adoption of the Declaration shows that Adams knew its import — and the challenges it presented:

“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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

That was not just a challenge of Adams’ time, but of all succeeding generations of Americans as well.  That is something to keep in mind during the pomp and parades today.

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Comment pages: 1 2 3 4

I am not really sure what you mean by that. To not know that in 1776 the word state was used to recognize what today we call country is simply to not know history. To not know that Virginia for example, thought of itself as an independent country in 1776 is simply to not know history as well.

None of this was addressed in your post that I critiqued.

Furthermore, if you love human rights, than I am guessing you do by your comments, you should want the Declaration to be about independence and not rights,

I want it to be nothing but what it is. What it is about is nothing but rights, their violations, and the remedy.

The rights violated are listed in the bulk of the document. It’s all about rights, the rights of a people to self-government. Had there been no tyranny, no violation of our rights, we would have been governing ourselves under the king’s benevolent hand.

because the basic right to rule your own destiny is the ultimate right, from which all other rights emanate. ReformedDeceptiCon on July 4, 2012 at 1:03 PM

A. Rights emanate from God, and are therefore unalienable.
B. Inferred: violations of those rights constitute rebellion against God. It is therefore permissible to rebel against such tyranny.
C. Therefore, the United States separated itself from their oppressor and announced that separation to the world, listing the particulars for having done so.

Akzed on July 4, 2012 at 8:45 PM

They printed the Declaration on the Editorial pages of the Whoregonian today, as is their tradition. I wonder if any of the editors or Press Whores actually read that thety printed.

Substitute “Federal Government” for the varkous references to the British Monarchy and you have a Modern Manifesto for American Patriots and Constitutionalists who yearn to once again breathe Free.

glcinpdx on July 4, 2012 at 9:44 PM

Anyone who thinks America was better 60 years ago than it is now either has a mental illness or some seriously jacked up morals. Wow.

libfreeordie
on July 4, 2012 at 1:37 PM

.
In post World War II America, some Godly Christian people began to affect a change in American cultural standards and practices that they believe needed changing.
These Christian believers made no secret of the fact that they believed that they were following God, and that God was leading them.

Other Christians didn’t agree with the type of change that this first group of Christians wanted to bring to pass. They resisted and fought against their fellow Christian brethren over this “cultural change” that they did not wish to come to pass.
.
Some time after this first movement was started, another movement for change in American cultural standards and practices began to take shape.
The leaders of this movement were NOT Christian believers. In fact they made no secret of their contempt for Christianity, and all that it stood for.

Gradually, over time the leaders of the UN-Godly movement began to infiltrate the Godly movement. A little more time (and a few assassinations later), the UN-Godly leaders completely hi-jacked what had started out as a Godly movement, and claimed it as their own.

And that’s where we still stand, today. The UN-Godly hiding behind the former Godly, claiming that if you oppose them (the UN-Godly), then you must be in opposition to the former Godly movement as well. They (the UN-Godly) claim that the two different movements are in fact one, and cannot be separated.

And that’s where I disagree, big time.

I don’t ignore the fact that the second group of Christians, who resisted and defied the first group, were (are?) a leading cause of this conflict that we still have unresolved today.

But I’m NOT going to grant your implied idea that “America is better-off today than sixty years ago” any validity or credibility, either.

Because it’s not. : (

listens2glenn on July 4, 2012 at 10:25 PM

listens2glenn on July 4, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Are you talking about Mormons?

lexhamfox on July 5, 2012 at 12:27 AM

listens2glenn on July 4, 2012 at 10:25 PM

.
Are you talking about Mormons?

lexhamfox on July 5, 2012 at 12:27 AM

.
I’m quite certain that both groups of Christians were predominantly (but not limited to) Southern Baptists.

listens2glenn on July 5, 2012 at 12:48 AM

This independence day our freedom is under attack.
The liberals will ban the likes of tobacco, soft drinks, guns, plastic bags, cars not to their liking, fatty or sugary or salty foods of all sorts are next, and what else is next will be limited only by the imagination of what libs might think they want to ban, and they will get many conservatives to go along with their specious rationale that gives no weight to the value of freedom, or to the real cost of us feeling that our lives are being controlled by a big govt of self-righteous know-it-alls. Now, also apparently, if you don’t buy or do what they want, they can tax you until you do it.
They have taxed tobacco to the hilt, but roll your own had escaped this, until now as Obama the smoker is going to close the “loophole.” At freerepublic there is a good thread where they talk about growing your own, and amending the constitution. My comment:

[a commenter said:] “The only way to stop it is to amend the Constitution that forbids the practice.”
[my reply:] The problem in a democracy is you get a majority that thinks something is the right thing to do or they just want to do it, the minority is constantly getting screwed. They shouldn’t ban something unless it’s an unlabeled poison.
Yes, amend the constitution, if possible!

anotherJoe on July 5, 2012 at 12:57 AM

Yesterday was the most depressing 4th of July I ever had. Our town banned fireworks because of the recent wildfires. I walked around my neighborhood and did not see one American flag displayed. There were police checkpoints all over town monitoring drivers and even bicycle riders. I almost wanted to cry when I thought of past Independence Days growing up and how grateful I was to live in a free country, and how my heart swelled with pride when I watched the American flag being raised and waiting for it to get dark in anticipation of the fireworks display.

I sure didn’t feel that yesterday, and reading the above excerpt, I have reason to be concerned about the independence of our citizens.

lea on July 5, 2012 at 11:10 AM

I wonder what the Founders would say if they learned how now, the Federal Government has assumed the power to tax its citizens into conforming to any behavior it deems appropriate?

JackM on July 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Cleombrotus on July 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Of all the knuckleheads who commented on what I wrote, only Cleombrotus took the time to actually understand it. You others are the reason we are where we are.

woodNfish on July 5, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Yesterday was the most depressing 4th of July I ever had. Our town banned fireworks because of the recent wildfires. I walked around my neighborhood and did not see one American flag displayed. There were police checkpoints all over town monitoring drivers and even bicycle riders. I almost wanted to cry when I thought of past Independence Days growing up and how grateful I was to live in a free country, and how my heart swelled with pride when I watched the American flag being raised and waiting for it to get dark in anticipation of the fireworks display.

I sure didn’t feel that yesterday, and reading the above excerpt, I have reason to be concerned about the independence of our citizens.

lea on July 5, 2012 at 11:10 AM

.
You’re not alone. : (

listens2glenn on July 5, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4