Declaration of Independence
The World’s Most Famous Mission Statement
As we learned last week, the Declaration of Independence can be read in less than 5 minutes. Yes, that is right - the very document that ignited the American Revolution and launched the nation that would become a “shining city on a hill” - can be read in less time than the instructions for your new toaster.
We recognize Thomas Jefferson as the true author of the Declaration of Independence but four other men were appointed to the writing committee: John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Today we explore the four components of the Declaration itself.
- The Preamble explains that the Continental Congress had decided to declare independence from England and felt compelled to explain their reasons, noting that they were entitled to an equal station among the nations of the earth by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.
- The Declaration of National Rights begins with the immortal words: “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.” With this, the second of four references to God, the Founders explain that while it is the role of government to secure rights, it is God that grants them.
- The List of Grievances includes the well known complaint: “No taxation without representation, but cites an additional 26 grievances lodged against King George III. These 27 grievances against the monarchy reflected both the depth of the abuses that had been heaped upon the colonists as well as their determination to live as free and independent citizens.
- The Resolution concludes the document and declares independence with these inspiring words: “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.”
Independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776. On July 4, 1776, Congress approved of the wording of the Declaration. While John Hancock signed a hand-written draft on July 4, the final draft was not available for signatures until August 2, 1776.
Next Constitution Corner
installment will be on the WOW web site, April 7, 2017.