It is about independence, a celebration of freedom and a triumphant salute to liberty.
History books tells us the facts that surround the founding of America as we know it today.
Fifty-six of our nation’s Founding Fathers declared independence from Great Britain at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Between June 11 and June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson — who later became a U.S. president — drafted the Declaration of Independence. To this day, the historic document serves as the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty, and is still remembered as Jefferson’s most monumental work.
Jefferson’s writings expressed the convictions that lay deep within the hearts and minds of so very many of his fellow Americans. Yet, his work — though original — was not the first to represent such political philosophies as a nation’s right to unconditional freedom.
A front-page story published Sunday in this newspaper pointed to others whose beliefs ran parallel to Jefferson’s, only sooner. The news account quoted the National Archives — where the Declaration of Independence is permanently housed, as well as the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights — website which reads, “... the political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers.”
The much-visited website adds, “What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in ‘self-evident truths’ and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.”
In tribute to Thursday’s coming celebrations — from corner to corner of America, a beautiful land that includes our own Cleveland and Bradley County — let us revisit some of the most familiar excerpts from the Declaration of Independence as penned and signed by Thomas Jefferson, and 55 of his fellow patriots:
- “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands 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 ... ”
- “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 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.”
- “... 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.”
- “Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
On Thursday, the United States of America will celebrate her 237th birthday.
Men of vision saw her potential as a free and sovereign state.
Men and women of conviction — of each race, culture and belief — will keep America free for as long as her flame of liberty lights a cherished and equal path for all who will follow.