Reflections on the Declaration of Independence

Reflections on the Declaration of Independence

Perrin C. Hamilton Jr.
Board member, American INSIGHT

July 4th is coming and it’s time to get out the burgers, beer and soda. However, it takes practically no time away from your festivities to appropriately reflect on this, the most significant of the ten American holidays.

To understand the essential importance of The Declaration of Independence, one should read the first, second, and then last paragraph of The Declaration of Independence. Everything between the second and last paragraphs is a list of grievances and offenses. Interesting, but not essential.

As of 1776, The Declaration of Independence expressed the culmination of the Age of Enlightenment.  This declaration made it clear that from this point on, the long-held belief that the rule of kings and other royalty were God ordained was now entirely rejected.  From this point on, Government will rule only at the consent of the governed and government is not to infringe the Natural or God Given rights of all men.

The Declaration of Independence set in motion the chain of events that ultimately enabled a nation, the United States of America, to have the greatest economic growth for the most people, with the most social justice for all, in the history of the world, anywhere in the world, and at any time in the history of civilization – by far.

But this came at a heavy price. The King of England unleashed the full fury of his ancient Kingdom on his own subjects. He hired mercenaries from the principalities of barbaric Germany to brutalize and terrorize his own subjects in this New Land.

The main clause of the final sentence of The Declaration of Independence; “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred honor, turned out to be far more than just words.

Nearly all of the 56 signers of the Declaration were well educated and wealthy with successful careers and good reputations. Nearly half of the signers were lawyers who were joined in signing by successful businessmen and wealthy farmers.  All of these signers had plenty to lose.

There was no practical need for any of them to be at all active in the pursuit of American Independence. They all would have lived an affluent and comfortable life without it.

The penalty for signing The Declaration of Independence was death; and it came to several of these signers.

The Revolutionary War rendered more than a few of these signers bankrupt.

I suggest that as we eat, drink, and be merry during this festive holiday, we should take at least a small amount of time to reflect on this history and be inspired by the bravery and sacrifice of our forebears.

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