It’s a national holiday most will answer, not knowing why it’s a national holiday. Far too few realize that on this day 237 years ago the seed of individual freedom was “replanted” here in America, a seed that has brought forth those fruits of freedom Americans now enjoy.
But does it make sense that America celebrates the day a document was signed 237 years ago by 56 Founders, representing 13 colonies that simply declared their independence from their mother country, England — and then basically ignore the day another foundational document was signed, by 55 men, a document that is in fact the foundational document of law for these United States of America — its Constitution?
Yes, I believe it does make sense. A lot of sense. That was the day that a document crafted, with divine help, by Thomas Jefferson, boldly declared to the world that Britain’s 13 colonies were no longer going to be subject to the tyrannical rule of England.
I also believe that William Penn’s Liberty Bell, with its biblical inscription “... proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: …” was a powerful inspiration for Jefferson and greatly influenced the immortal words he penned in America’s Declaration of Independence.
There is no doubt in my mind, nor was there any doubt in the minds of the other 55 signers, that they knew the source of these words, the Old Testament’s book of Leviticus, chapter 25:10.
Those words lay heavy on the hearts of the Founding Fathers, both those that signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and later those that signed the newly crafted Constitution on September 17, 1787. These men, all Bible scholars themselves, saw themselves as the restorers of freedom to a world then ruled by despotic Ruler’s Law.
While few today want to acknowledge it, both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are laced with the principles of freedom and liberty Moses carried down off of Mount. Sinai and incorporated into what is known today as the Law of Moses, the law that governed ancient Israel for approximately 237 years (sound familiar), before corruption set in and the people demanded a king to rule over them, a king that then enslaved them.
These were the laws that the apostle James referred to as “the perfect laws of liberty.” How corrupted they had become.
There are eight such principles woven into this Declaration:
1. Sound government should be based on self-evident truths. These truths should be so obvious, so rational and so morally sound that their authenticity is beyond reasonable doubt.
2. The equal station of mankind here on earth is a cosmic reality, an obvious and inherent aspect of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
3. This presupposes (as self-evident truths) that their creator made human beings equal in their rights, equal before the bar of justice and equal in his sight.
4. These rights which have been bestowed by the creator on each individual are unalienable; that is, they cannot be taken away or violated without the offender coming under the judgment and wrath of the creator. A person may have other rights, such as those that were created as “vested” rights; but vested rights are not unalienable. They can be altered or eliminated at any time.
5. Among the most important of the unalienable rights are the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to pursue a life in search of happiness, so long as it does not violate the inherent rights of others.
6. That the most basic reason for a community or nation to set up a system of government is to assure its citizens that the rights of the people shall be protected and preserved.
7. It then follows that no office or agency of government has any right to exist except with the consent of the people or their representatives.
And 8: Then, it follows, if a government either by malfeasance or neglect fails to protect those rights — or, worse, if the government itself begins to violate those rights — then it is the right, and the duty of the people to regain control of their affairs and set up a form of government which will serve the people better.
July Fourth, a day to celebrate and ponder America’s freedoms.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.