231 years ago, the leaders of America agreed upon a declaration of their principles in order to officially recognize and universalize their scattered actions into one common cause. Those scattered actions of Samuel Adams exhortations, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere & Lexington/Concord, Patrick Henry's '...but as for me, give me Liberty - or give me death.", Bunker Hill, all of these came together, 'From out of many, One' as a principled stand against tyranny, and for ... what?
What were these scattered words and actions, what were their purposes whose motivating principles unifying could be unified under Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence?
The smart set (meaning self-stupid-ifying ideological proregressives) would have us believe that it was for taxes (ostensibly), but even more so to further line the pockets of rich merchants and slave owners - and to a majority of the Signers, they could point to the facts of their lives and situations as support for their sophistry.
As is the case with most facts stripped from context and principle - they Lie. Most foully, they do lie.
The American colonies were settled by people seeking to live their own lives as they saw fit. I won't say they sought religious freedom, for as with the Puritans (who came later), at best they originally sought the freedom to impose their own religious tyranny. The Virginians (who were here first) came for gold and adventure. All of them found Reality. Stark and unbuffered by established traditions and aristocracies. Here in the wilds of America, they found only primitive savages, wilderness and need.
Those conditions, coupled with the mother country of England being distracted by continental concerns, left the colonists free to discover the razor of reality - what is false and useless, must be discarded. What is Good and True, and that most rare of things in a colony - the Beautiful, must be valued, guarded and promoted. The cream of western civilization was taught to their children, the classics & the Bible, and the new English/Scottish philosophers.
Slowly over the next 150 years, these conditions formed a hardy people. A people one part civilized and one part wild. That one part civilized, was civilized mainly by way of those virtues and ideals which didn't conflict with the one part that was wild. They didn't necessarily know what they knew, but beneath the knowledge they did have, through lessons of daily conduct, they learned the lessons of character formed of realities razor, through which they knew true Freedom.
That knowledge of freedom knew the folly of license, just as the Aesop’s ants knew that the foolish grasshopper would soon become their food. They had the lessons of civilization, knew of the necessity of Law, as only those who are confronted with the spectacle of savages and unvarnished reality can know it. They had distant memories of the best and worst possible in the rumors of civilization far away, and held the best of them as something to aim towards. They had a Goal - to survive and prosper, and they had the clear parameters of savagery or desolation to guide them. The Puritans early experiment with communism taught them all the harsh lessons of the feebleness of collective authority and 'ownership' of property, over the community of Individuals secure in their rights of Property, working individually together in community.
These lessons were learned and known in their spirit and conduct, even if they didn't know it in written understanding. They knew the True Freedom of freedom boundaried by reality and law. And they knew what it meant to stray from them.
Into this world 150 years in the learning and making, the attentions of the mother country, and of Europe, returned to them. They fought the French and Indian war with and for the British. And then the British sought to have them help to pay for it. For the European, insulated from the follies of bad economics and tyranny by millennia of established traditions, they thought nothing of their impositions.
Through the lessons of dealing with the Indians, and the wilderness, the colonists knew in their bones, the folly of forcefully trampling upon the sacred rights of property, of thinking that laws issued against the tide would stop it, immediately had their backs up. They couldn't well say what they didn't like about it, but they knew something was seriously wrong.
Into that void of being able to put into words what they all understood, came James Otis, Samuel Adams, John Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren. And they were soon followed by John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and so many others, all of whom form the body of the Founding Fathers. They put into words and deeds what they all already knew, that proper, civilized men dealt with their fellows ethically, or not at all.
Those who chose to act unethically, to act against Nature and Natures God, against Reality, was either a savage or a tyrant - and both unworthy of respect. Worthy only of defiance, and defying a European Tyrant entailed the use of cold steel and the risking of your life and your sacred honor.
Into that understanding, Thomas Jefferson, at the request of a committee of the best of the Colonists, put that understanding into the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence.
Review the sacred document well, and you will find it to be a declaration of and by Patriots for the Ethical Taxation of Americans, ethics which they knew and understood, learned deeply and well through the school of the Good, the Beautiful and the True - of Reality, and the Spirit which runs through it.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.THE UNANIMOUSDECLARATION OF THE
THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
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 Tyranny 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 complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and 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 Connexions 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 Connexion 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 Honour.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.
IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777.
THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the Names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD.
By Order of CONGRESS,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
The various HE’s and For’s may have changed between then and now, but the principles remain the same, and the necessity of defiance should be apparent to us now, just as it was to us then. Thankfully, today there is no need in this land for the use of cold steel against the tyrants among us and in our capitals, but the need to defy tyrants, to put into words the usurpations and offenses, and the statement of Principled words for what we all know and understand – remains very much the same.
Perhaps the recent amnesty bill will stir us again to defy tyrants, perhaps more is needed – we shall seek to keep the need alive and clarified.
Long live the Spirit of 1776.