Today, America is 230 years old, more or less. I suppose it’s a question of counting from the declaration of independence or the actual gaining of independence about seven years later.
I’ve learned that too few Americans, or others living here, truly understand the Republic established by the Founding Fathers—nor have many living today read important documents like the Declaration of Independence or Bill of Rights. The latter document should be mandatory reading by everyone, given actions taken by the current administration against its own people (For the record, I am politically independent and do not side with either party. I voted for this president, so my criticism doesn’t come from partisanship).
Anyway, in celebration of America’s 230th birthday and acceptance that too few people have read the Declaration of Independence, I excerpt from the document today:
“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.
Great Britain viewed the act of forming a separate government as an act of treason. The raising of a militia and the American’s subsequent guerilla warfare were considered acts of terrorism. And the dissident Americans did all this in the name of God.
Some people might find startling and frightening parallels to post 9-11 America’s struggle with al-Qaeda. For our adversaries attacked us in the name of God, believing that our culture, our nation’s influence oppressed them. There the parallels end. For America’s founders didn’t seek to destroy Britain or the way of life of the British people. Nor did Americans justify mass murder in the name of God.
America’s Founding Fathers instead sought to establish a Republic based on democratic principles, where no one man—whether an eighteenth century king or modern religious fanatic like Osama bin Laden—could exert power over many.
The Declaration of Independence closing paragraphs read:
We have warned [our British brethren] 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.
Fifty-six people signed the document, which Thomas Jefferson penned between June 11-28, 1776. America may have drifted from the Founders’ dream and too many people call the Republic something it’s not: a democracy. But the dream of freedom, of cooperation for the greater good remain strong ideals that bind together the cultural fabric of the Republic.
Today is the right day to recall the Founding Father’s vision and what the Colonies fought for. How does the Pledge of Allegiance end? “With liberty and justice for all”.
Editor’s Note: On July 28, 2017, this post was recovered, using Archive.org Wayback Machine, from a snapshot of joewilcox.com during 2006, when months of content was lost while changing blogging systems and webhosts. Date and timestamps are authentic.