Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 1776

Rebels they may have been but they could write.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds 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 to 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 shown 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. --


  1. Helen, thanks for reminding us here in the US. Things are reaching a boiling point.

  2. Given their enthusiasm for exporting "Democracy" around the world, it is as well to remember that the American Founding Fathers were not all that keen on it. Being classically educated gentlemen, they knew how frequently it descended into demagoguery and dictatorship. So they built in lots of checks and balances. Senators, for instance, were originally men who commanded the support of their own state legislature and not elected by popular vote - almost like ambassadors from their states to keep an eye on central government (and with one senator to keep an eye on the other like the Consuls of the Roman republic).

    I have never found a satisfactory source of the following which is claimed to be by Benjamin Franklin. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the count".

    The Virginian, John Smith of Roanoke, was wary of "too democratical" a constitution for the Old Dominion "else we have but exchanged King George for King Numbers"

    So the constitution was "republican" rather than "democratic".

    Given the time and trouble they took to restrain the potential of democracy for evil, it is surprising how keen their successors have become to export it to places ruled by far less enlightened people.