I published this back in 2012 and thought it worth publishing again. The principles of this Declaration, along with the Constitution, have governed us for almost 250 years. Hopefully they will continue to be the law of the land for many years to come. Remember that individual FREEDOM plus personal RESPONSIBILITY(accountability) equals LIBERTY within society! True Liberty is living as we should not as we please. We can not and will not remain a free nation (have a free society) if we take personal responsibility out of how we live. Freedom without Responsibility results in Lawlessness.
The definition goes as follows:
- Freedom = The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint
- Responsibility = The state or fact of being accountable for your actions
- Liberty = The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority
Freedom + Responsibility = Liberty
The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants + The state of being accountable = A free Nation (society)
Paul summed it up in 1 Corinthians when he told us to "seek the good of many," not just our own good.
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.
All thirteen colonies, a total of 56 representatives, signed the declaration, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. John Hancock, as president of the Second Continental Congress and one of the representatives for Massachusetts, signed his name largely and clearly so that King George could read it without his spectacles.
Liberty = Freedom + Responsibility
All of this struggle began years earlier. Originating in the 1750s and 1760s, the notion of "taxation without representation" was one of the primary grievances of the British colonists and was one of the major reasons for the American Revolution. Many colonists believed the lack of direct representation was an illegal denial of their rights as Englishmen, and therefore laws taxing the colonists or laws applying only to the colonies, were unconstitutional.
One of the early actions against the British was the Boston Tea Party. It was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. The Tea Party Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, primarily because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed without representation in the Parliament. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists, the Sons of Liberty, boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.
The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 in part by closing Boston Harbor until the British East India Company had been repaid for the destroyed tea. Colonists in turn responded with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress. The crisis continued to escalate, and the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.
Other memorable actions strengthening the American resolve were the Gadsden flag and Patrick Henry's "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" speech. "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" is a quotation attributed to Patrick Henry from a speech, given on March 23, 1775, to the Virginia Convention. Reportedly, those in attendance, upon hearing Henry's speech, shouted, "give me liberty or give me death!"
In 1754, during the French and Indian War, Franklin published his famous woodcut of a snake cut into eight sections. It represented the colonies, with New England joined together as the head and South Carolina as the tail. The other colonies were listed in between, in their order along the coast. Under the snake was the message "Join, or Die". This was the first political cartoon published in an American newspaper. This was followed by the Gadsden flag which has a yellow field with a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the snake are the words "DONT TREAD ON ME". The flag was designed by and is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden. It was first used by the Continental Marines in the fall of 1775. The symbol of the rattlesnake became one of the images of the resolve of the colonists.
The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, is at once the nation's most cherished symbol of Liberty and Jefferson's most enduring document. Jefferson concisely expressed the convictions of the American people. The philosophy was not new; the idea of individual freedoms had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize it in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King justifying before the world the breaking of ties with the mother country.
The American colonists revolted for Liberty over a list of grievances, chief among them the lack of representation in the British legislature and the accompanying tyrannical rule, and the rest is history.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) - Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.