The Declaration of Independence

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

It behooves every American to read at least once a year the document that outlined the principles and reasons why the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. These words remain its most profound statement:

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 of 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.

It seems that the Fourth of July seems the most appropriate day for that reading.


  • mpthompson

    I read the Declaration of Independence this morning when it was posted on another site in full. It’s been many, many years since I last read it. The closing paragraph really struck me:

    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.

    They truly knew what Franklin is later quoted as saying “we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately”. I wonder if such men (and women) could be found today if given similar circumstances.

  • Perhaps more important than the Declaration is an insight into its influencing philosophies. Bacon, Hume, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and many others explored the relationship between Man, the natural world, and government. The Founders were familiar with these works, and were arguably most influenced by Rousseau and his contention that Man was sovereign to the State: millennia of political systems otherwise notwithstanding.

    The Founders were guided by philosophers whose axiomatic point of departure was that human beings are part of the natural world, and any just government must take that into account. That they were correct in doing so is not open to debate. The United States rose from a group of barely cohesive colonies to world pre-eminence in a historical blink of an eye. This nation has afforded more opportunity to more people than any society in human history. No State based on intellectual construct has come within a fraction of a shadow of that.

  • Chris

    I bow to Blair Ivey’s deeper knowledge of the history of our Founding Fathers basis for the Declaration.
    My post is to consider the relative “miracle” in our “modern society” of the quotes in the movie National Treasure…. Especially the “responsibility to take action”

    Bob there is a good Evening Pause

  • Joe

    Thanks for posting Robert, I did read this as I was grilling dinner for the Independence Day holiday, Blair, great post, I always learn something from you!

  • Wayne

    Yes, as always, your words “sing!”

    >>Anyone who wants a pocket Constitution/Declaration, visit the Hillsdale College or Heritage Foundation websites & they can hook you up, often for free.

    Total tangent– anyone remember when they passed the 27th Amendment? (Rhetorical… they appear to be able to accomplish stuff, only when it directly concerns THEM.)

  • Vladislaw

    What is interesting is what the Conservatives had removed from the Declaration of Independence:

    “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another. ”



    When Thomas Jefferson included a passage attacking slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence it initiated the most intense debate among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early summer of 1776. Jefferson’s passage on slavery was the most important section removed from the final document. It was replaced with a more ambiguous passage about King George’s incitement of “domestic insurrections among us.” Decades later Jefferson blamed the removal of the passage on delegates from South Carolina and Georgia and Northern delegates who represented merchants who were at the time actively involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Jefferson’s original passage on slavery appears below.”

  • wayne

    I would venture to opine you are confused as to what “Conservative” means in the United States.

  • Edward

    This just shows how dependent the South had become on the slave industry. As you quoted: “it initiated the most intense debate among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early summer of 1776.”

    The intensity of the debate shows that eliminating slavery was a high priority for the North, and keeping it was a high priority for the South. That the northern Founding Fathers did not easily give-in to the South shows that they were serious about ending the practice. That they wove as much as they could into the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution shows their dedication to ending it. To go too far would alienate the South, and they would become a separate nation of slavery, with no hope of the North being able to eventually influence the end of the practice.

    That so many Northerners were willing to die and be maimed during the (un)Civil War shows that they, too, had a strong dedication to ending it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *