The Declaration of Independence

The Beginning of A Nation
The Rejection of Tyranny

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was the first document of its kind. Before its drafting, no other time in history recorded the act of a people not only rejecting the ruler of their home country, but declaring to themselves the rights and privileges of free men to self govern. All other documents and charters were drafted to either declare geographical ownership by a particular monarch or list a series of rights given to the people by whatever ruler they were subject to. The Declaration of Independence was not only unique in its design but in its intent.
 Before the drafting of the Declaration, the individual populated sections of the new world were called colonies because they were still subject to the rules of the British Crown. They were referred to in all communications as The American Colonies and the inhabitants were called Colonists which indicated they were subjects of the British Crown. The same English laws and Church of England religious mandates suffered by those in the homeland were extended to those in the American Colonies. The New World was only new in a geographical sense, but remained the same in the political, social, and religious senses.
Around 1770 a group of influential colonists began to discuss the possibility of shaking off the bonds of British tyranny and forming a new nation where individual freedoms were protected, and government was limited by the will of the people. It would be a Republican form of government where every citizen would have a voice and those voices would be protected against government persecution and retaliation.
On July 18, 1774, Fairfax County, George Washington’s home county passed the Fairfax Resolve which stated British sovereignty over the colonies was forever rejected, and the long process of independence was to begin leading to many skirmishes between the colonists and the British Army.
On June 15, 1775 the new Continental Congress formally establishes the Continental Army, and the very next day appointed George Washington as the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces. The colonists were now past the point of no return, and they knew even if the British offered them a pardon for their rebellion, that they would be put to death. So, they decided if they were to die, it would be as free men and not subjects of the Crown. The drafting of a declaration of intent to separate from the British Crown was the first order, and that’s just what they did. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially approved and adopted by the second Continental Congress and signed by all members. We will look at The Declaration of Independence and discover not only the true intent of the drafters, but the facts of why it was worded the way it is. 
  The two main driving forces in their decision making had to do with religious persecution and taxation without representation. The British Crown taxed everything owned by the citizens. Their homes, their land, their livestock, their gardens, their wagon, their use of the roads, and even their children, but they had no voice in the governing of the country. The Church of England was the dominant religious authority in England and the people were not allowed to practice any other religion that didn’t have the approval of the church leadership. The Protestant Reformation of the early 1700’s challenged the Church of England and its Catholic authority to dictate what the definition of Christianity was and how it was to be practiced. As a result, religious wars broke out and anyone practicing this new Protestant faith was imprisoned and given the opportunity to recant this new faith or be executed.
The founders of this new nation decided they would create a nation founded on religious freedom and a government controlled by the people, so the Declaration of Independence was drafted and ratified by the second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and the first Republic in the history of the world was created.
 

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 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.

The Declaration of Independence

An Introduction to Its Simplicity

“In Congress, July 4, 1776”
 The drafters of the Declaration wanted to establish from the very beginning their resolve to break away from the tyranny of the British Crown with this opening. By using the words ‘In Congress’ they communicated that the new nation was a reality and this body was officially the Congress, the first branch of the new government, established and working for the people. They didn’t say ‘The Second Continental Congress’ because the document they were drafting was the blade that would forever sever the chains of British tyranny on the colonies, and create in its wake a new and independent country. They knew that this one line brought them to the point of no return.
“The unanimous Declaration”
 ‘The unanimous Declaration’ was a message within itself. The use of the word ‘The’ instead of ‘This’ indicated that the document was the one and only drafting and its message was final. The word ‘This’ would have implied the possibility of other Declarations being drafted if the first was met with resistance from the Crown. Using ‘The’ left no doubt that the Declaration was final and resolved and there would be no other. Of course the word ‘unanimous’ indicated there were no dissenters or undecided in pursuit of the establishment of a free and independent nation. The decision was final and there would be no more debate or amendments in the future.
“of the thirteen united States of America,”
 This was the final shot in the drafter’s message to the Crown that this nation would be a reality whether the Crown liked it or not. Countries had states not colonies. By referring to the thirteen colonies as states, the drafters were proclaiming the establishment of a new country and that there were no longer any colonies. They would from that day forward be known as the United States of America, a sovereign nation. The drafters of the Declaration did not word it haphazardly or without clear understanding of its impact on themselves and the people. They were well aware that from the moment they signed the Declaration their lives were forfeit. The British Crown was not compassionate or forgiving, and there would be no other choice but a fight to the death. 

 

The Body Text

“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,”

"When in the Course of human events," speaks of the decisions we make, or fail to make, that determines our state of existence. There's an old adage that says, “One can be sincere in their decisions and still be sincerely wrong.” The people who comprised the various nations of the world were taught from one generation to another that being subject to the King or Ruler of the Realm was the natural order of things and there would never be another choice. The peoples of the world had always been content to be subjects instead of citizens because they had never known anything else.
The next part: “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” speaks of the realization by one group of people (the founders) that the political bands, or chains of servitude connecting them to a political master, not only can be severed but must be severed.
And then: “and to assume among the powers of the earth,” The word 'assume' when looked at in context to the message of the text and the intent of the drafters, doesn't mean and unsure or indecisive act, but to grasp hold of as an act of authority and purpose. So, it basically says, “to grasp hold of the powers of the earth among which is the law of individual freedom."
Followed by: "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them," The ‘separate and equal station’ speaks of there being no freedom allowed a political entity that is not also allowed the people.
Basically the text is saying, "When the course of human events, the people find themselves in the bands of servitude to a political power, they have the natural right, given by God, to shake off those bands and grasp for themselves an individual and equal freedom with those who hold them in servitude. This was the shot fired in the Declaration that informed the British Crown of the full intent of the document. The full and uncompromising freedom of the people from British rule.

“a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The founders understood that to successfully separate the colonists from the rule of the Crown, it had to be an “all or nothing” confederation between the people and the founders. “A decent respect to the opinions of mankind” spoke of an agreement by all of the people to not only declare independence but be willing to fight against any and all resistance by the British forces. They wanted the people to understand that by being in agreement to be free, they were also agreeing to die for that freedom if necessary.
The founders also wanted the people to understand that by committing to the separation from the Crown, they also had to agree to the reasons for that separation. “Should declare the causes which impel them to the separation” The word impel in the context of the document and its intent means “to urge or drive forward or on by or as if by the exertion of strong moral pressure.” They considered the separation from the British Crown to not only be a political and economic imperative, but a moral one. They understood that men were born to freedom and forced into servitude, either by class or economic standing, and such an existence was seen to be morally abhorrent and wrong.

“We hold these truths to be self evident,”

This opening statement allows the reader to understand that what follows is considered common knowledge and is without opposition to any reasonable person. There are universal understandings that are beyond the restrictions of the elected officials and the powers of men, and they are self-evident and self-sustaining even in a restricted society. Facts can be denied but they cannot be destroyed because there will always be a remnant of reason among the population that will not allow them to die. In today's world that remnant is called Conservatives. Those seeking to circumvent a rule or law know the truth but choose to ignore it and even attempt to discredit or obfuscate it to cloud its true intent. Those citizens who are content to accept their conclusions without argument is what we call subjects, not free people.

(To be continued)