Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 1

2012 will go down in history as one of the most critical presidential election cycles of American history.  Much is at stake.  Will we allow an ever growing government to wipe away what freedoms we have left, or will we remember the freedoms that our founding documents detail and, in theory, protect.

Freedom Matters will be a series that looks at 3 key documents that shape the United States, the Declaration of Independence (1776), the first Constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation (1781) and our current Constitution (1789).

I will not take the time to make a full accounting of the historical context, nor the philosophical context of the writing of these documents.  Dr George Grant does an excellent job of that in his lecture “Dumb and Dumber” which can be downloaded or streamed here.  That information is readily available in libraries, online, etc.  Where you find my comments incomplete, and you will find them incomplete, go do your homework.  Fill in the gaps as you have time and resources.  The point is to re-familiarize ourselves with the documents themselves, so as to make better decisions when it comes to electing political officials.

Today, we begin with the Declaration of Independence.  Most of us have some idea of the historical context in which the Declaration was written.  I will post the text, and make comments as I see necessary.  This will probably take 2 or 3 posts.

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.

Natural law simply states that there is a natural order to things.  In the context of the formation of the United States, it was a natural thing for the colonist to want to stay unified to British rule, as many at the time wanted, but the more Parliament became tyrannical, it was also natural for the colonist to want to break away from England.

The apostle Paul even seems to address natural law in Romans 2:14

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

Returning to the Declaration:

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.

The order of these three basic rights matters.  The right to pursuing happiness is worthless without the freedom to do it, and the freedom to pursue happiness is of no value if there is not live for the liberty to be bestowed on.  And what is the point of living if there is no freedom to pursue ones calling in live.  The whole of human history clearly demonstrates that man is meant to be free to fulfill his calling, and he must be given first life and then liberty to do it.

–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.

The right of a people to govern themselves.  The responsibility of a people to to maintain that government.  Both ideas are codified above.  The purpose is to prevent tyranny.  Absolute power does corrupt absolutely, and this was the preventative measure the framers had in mind.

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.

The Declaration of Independence is, essentially, a list of charges against the British crown, although Parliament also bore some responsibility.  In the next post, we will look at those charge.

4 thoughts on “Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 1

  1. Pingback: Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 2 « The Next Reformation

  2. Pingback: Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 2 | Brewing Under the Surface

  3. Pingback: Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 2 | Brewing Under the Surface

  4. Pingback: Freedom Matters–The Declaration of Independence Part 3 | Brewing Under the Surface

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