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Read the Declaration – It might surprise you

Happy Independence Day!

If you have never read the Declaration of Independence, or not since high school, I highly recommend that you hop over the National Archives and read it. Some of it might surprise you. For instance, did you know the Declaration explicitly claims the right of secession from a nation to form a new government? It’s right in the first two paragraphs (bolding mine):

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.

I’m not sure how it gets clearer for that.

There might also be some surprise for people who insist that the military is the sole cause of our freedom. Two of the Founders complaints against the King were:

  • 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.

Admittedly, our standing armies have the consent of the federal legislatures and states are now eager to have military bases. However, all the talk that say only the commanding generals have the right to set terms of withdrawal occupied countries does sort of sound like making the military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

What surprises you about the Declaration? Please quote from it and share your thoughts.

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3 Responses

  1. Read it, notice the current absence of “prudence” in public discourse these days.

  2. The Declaration of Independence was just that…a document outlining why the United States was forming a more perfect Union.

    It is a statement of freedom and not a definitive legal document…that’s what our Constitution is for.

    To claim precedence using the Declaration is not correct.

  3. Hi Freedom. I haven’t seen anybody claiming precedence by using the Declaration. My purpose was to show that it might contain something surprising and in some cases, offensive to American sensibilities today.

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