Manual Independence Day -- Reflections on the Declaration of Independence

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Declaration of Independence Quote - Mile Hi Church - Independence Day Service

Thank you. True liberty is not essentially constituted in freedom from oppressive restrictions imposed on one's way of life by an unjust authority, but rather is found in the eternal possession of God's love. Paul Middle School. Explore the Bible - Ark of the Covenant. More U. Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! The self-evident truths of the Declaration, then, garner much of their specific political significance for the American Revolution from the evidence offered by the facts of Anglo-American constitutionalism; these measure the violations and later the remedies as well as moderate the radical potential in the revolutionary language taken by itself.

Stripped of this context, the first principles enunciated by Jefferson are not self-evident at all—at least, not to anyone raised in the tradition of Western virtue or in a world formed by Judeo-Christian belief. Let me give an example. First, whatever might be said of the relation of husband and wife, the family is built not around equality, but around the inequality of parent and child. Second, the family is first and foremost not about rights, but about duties; even the right of children to care and education is abstract and vague compared to the duty of parents to provide and instruct and the duty of children to obey and learn.

Third, the origin of the family is not exactly consent. In some cultures, including our own, spouses choose for themselves whom to marry, but even then the roles they assume are largely socially defined. Except in cases of adoption, and very rarely then, children do not choose their parents, and leaving aside brave, new technologies and, again, adoption parents do not choose their children. Fourth, the end of the family is only incidentally the security of rights; it is principally provision and nurture in an environment formed by love.

And fifth, when family becomes destructive of its ends, it cannot be altered and abolished without in most instances inflicting further wounds that never heal. Now about this counter-example to the self-evident truths of the Declaration, allow me to make two points.

Declaration of Independence

First, Jefferson and his fellows were altogether aware that families were not formed upon their principles. Precisely what they objected to in Tory political theory was political patriarchalism, the effort to form the state on analogy to the family. Natural equality meant that the king was not to act as father in relation to his people—not that fathers were not kings in their own homes. That abusive government can be changed was not seen to undermine the indissolubility of marriage nor the lifelong attachment between parent and child.

Though opinions about the success of this effort are bound to differ, allow me to say for my own part that I am more impressed by the resilience of old patterns against all the force of dominant opinion than I am by evidence that abuses have been diminished and familial happiness more commonly achieved. The fundamental equality of the sexes may be self-evident, but their equality in the sense of their having no relevant differences even from the point of view of the family is not.

And unless one is driven by a personal or ideological commitment to non-traditional family forms, I do not see how one can argue that the current regime with regard to the family in Western society is self-evidently the best, at least with respect to children. One might note that almost nowhere in the West today are native populations even reproducing their numbers, and in some countries those populations are on the verge of precipitous decline. It is a matter in which we certainly need, and all have difficulty sorting through, the facts.

My point in raising the counter-example of the family is not to deny that what the Declaration calls self-evident truths are true, but to show, first, the grounds that might be raised in objection to them and so, I concede, to call into question their self-evidence , and second, to suggest how they need to be understood so as not to place their authors under the charge of hopeless contradiction.

When a generation came along that defended slavery as a positive good, that generation either denounced the Declaration or interpreted its universal language in narrow ways. It is easy enough to understand the pressure of analogy that would make the hierarchical family entail an authoritarian state, or make an egalitarian state demand an egalitarian family. But it also makes sense to see the relation as, I would argue, our Founding Fathers did: The patriarchal state had to go because it makes children of real fathers, refusing to allow them the manly responsibility of governing themselves and those with whose care they are charged.

On the one hand, divine kingship might seem to entail by analogy a divine right to rule in a human, hereditary king.

On the other hand, if God is king, then every human king is a usurper. What the Declaration and the revolution it articulated did establish was political liberty. So wrote John Marshall to a correspondent in his later years; in fact, his letter was to the redoubtable Edward Everett, Unitarian minister, Harvard Professor of Greek literature, then a U. Senator from the same, and the man who shared the platform with Lincoln at Gettysburg in Wrote Marshall to Everett:.

Our resistance was not made to actual oppression. Americans were not pressed down to the earth by the weight of their chains nor goaded to resistance by actual suffering. The war was a war of principle against a system hostile to political liberty, from which oppression was to be dreaded, not against actual oppression. And they could see that Parliament and the king were committed to a colonial policy that would henceforth keep them subordinate.

The relation of mother country to dependent colonies, however appropriate in the early years, was fast becoming a fiction as a rising generation of Americans learned they had the wisdom, the skills, the confidence, and the solidarity to govern themselves. The British ministry understood this development, too, and when they moved to foreclose it, the colonists struck back. Because the Americans soon realized that the conflict was irreversible, they could not merely invoke traditional liberties.

Besides, they had learned over the course of a decade of constitutional dispute that their ability to resist Britain depended on their concert of action, and there was no established continent-spanning government to whose traditional authority they could make appeal. Even when Lincoln suggests its radical potential, in the passage I quoted above, he implicitly clings to its specifically political connotation.

The nature and influence of the Declaration of Independence

Read in the light of the document as a whole, then, the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence constitute an understanding of political liberty that is the basis of our constitutional order. Precisely because they commit us to liberty on political questions, they swear us to no allegiance to a political creed beyond a willingness to support the Constitution.

Because the political things are not the whole of things, or even the noblest things, the truths about the political things cannot pretend to capture the whole of truth: political liberty can be a good, even a noble good, without being the comprehensive good. The high cost of freedom was paid for in blood, in what historians estimate to be the death of 25, American Patriots. It took eight years, four months, and fifteen days of war between America and Great Britain during the American Revolution to be fully attained.

Independence Day: July 4th | Page 2 | Smithsonian Institution

The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

  • Legions (In Hiding);
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  • Toward independence.
  • Concerto Grosso No. 3 in C Minor (Solo Violin 1 Part) - Op. 6, No. 3!
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  • Paris (Images of America).
  • Speech on Independence Day.

Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

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.