Americans, as they prepare for this national holiday, should use this week to ponder more deeply this uniquely American document, the document that set America apart from the rest of the world in 1776, and established America as a beacon of freedom for the world’s enslaved, those yearning to be free, both spiritually and economically — then and now.
Most Americans today are more familiar with how George Washington won an unwinnable war against the world’s greatest army, with only a ragtag army, than they are about how the Declaration of Independence came into being.
Yes, many Americans know it was Jefferson who drafted this world-changing document in June 1776, but do they know, in our politically correct society, about the divine help he received in drafting this document, a document that in its final form was signed unanimously by all 56 members of that Congress, knowing when they did so, they were signing their own death warrant should their war for independence be lost — as it nearly was, on many occasions?
The suggestion of divine help comes from those who strongly believe that no man, no matter his intelligence, could have possibly drafted such a powerful world-changing document on his own, thus the need for divine help from an angel, or the Holy Ghost, that third member of the Godhead that Jefferson so strongly believed in and then mocked for his “strange” beliefs.
Such beliefs were not strange to Jefferson’s associates, who were well read and versed in the Judeo/Christian Bible and in the role God played in freeing the Israelites from Egypt’s tyrant Pharaoh anciently, and who strongly believed in the power of prayer to their creator and supreme judge of the world.
The colonists felt their abuses, the 27 Jefferson had outlined in a letter to the king in 1775, were akin to these afflicted on the ancient Israelites, and so, as did the Israelites, they too prayed to their “Creator” for deliverance.
That Jefferson believed in Jesus Christ is beyond question for any honest historian. His use of the words “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, Creator, Supreme Judge of the world, and divine Providence” in his draft is solid proof of his unquestioned belief in a supreme being, and it is difficult not to believe that such a belief in deity would lead to asking his creator for divine guidance as he faced a task never before attempted.
Even Jefferson’s Old Testament counterpart, Moses, shrank when confronted by Jehovah on Mt. Sinai, wanting no part of God’s plan for him in freeing the Israelites. There is no mention of Jefferson shrinking from this assignment. But reason tells us that Jefferson would have spent much of the first 15 days, the days he spent on this document’s first two paragraphs, on his knees pleading for divine assistance. No other explanation is feasible in accomplishing such a feat.
Another point: Too few Americans understand that paragraph two of Jefferson’s document is broken into three segments. The first segment, 35 words, declares “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, …,” that segment used by progressives effectively for the past 100 years to transform America into a different form of government, a government not comprehended by Jefferson or the other Founders.
Segment two, 25 words, simply explains how the rights in segment one are obtained.
Perhaps the least-understood segment, three, explains clearly to all Americans, in 205 words, that it is “their right, (in fact) it is their duty” to throw off governments that become oppressive to the ideals of paragraph one and segment one of paragraph two of Jefferson’s Declaration.
America was founded because one-third of its people sided with the few “instigators” (Founding Fathers) who provided the leadership to organize and fight against what Jefferson described as “absolute Despotism.”
History is replete with such stories of how a people oppressed beyond endurance rebelled and were willing to die for their freedoms.
Growing numbers are beginning to believe that America is on a similar track today and thus we see those being oppressed by their government, obsessed with itself and mired in scandals, using its bully powers to silence its opponents with its IRS, NSA and Justice Departments, now protesting such government despotic tactics, even as did America’s early Patriots 237 years ago.
Happy Fourth, America!
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.