The View From 1776
Saturday, July 03, 2010
July 4, 2010: Rededicate Ourselves To The Declaration
The events triggered by the Declaration of Independence were not a revolution. They were a struggle to gain independence from arbitrary exercise of government power.
Few people ever read beyond the stirring opening sentences of the Declaration. The meat of the document is in the bottom part of the second paragraph:
But 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.
This to a considerable extent the situation we the voters have fashioned for ourselves since Franklin Roosevelt’s imposition of welfare-state socialism in the 1930s. The Obama administration openly and proudly proclaims its intention to impose a New New Deal, the final socialist nails our coffin.
Describing the war that commenced in 1776 as a revolution gives a very erroneous impression. Revolutions commonly destroy existing power centers, including religion, sovereignty, and the law. Our War of Independence resulted in none of those things.
State governments, which had already functioned as local colonial governments for as long as 156 years remained in power, usually under their original constitutions, which were derivatives of their colonial charters. English common law remained the law of the land. No church properties were seized, no clergymen were imprisoned, as happened 13 years later in the French Revolution.
What did happen was establishment of the principle that states and their citizens were to be free of arbitrary exercise of centralized government power. That was the meaning of the most popular slogan of the war, “No Taxation Without Representation.”
Subsequent ratification of the Constitution in 1789 did create a stronger Federal government. But the very name Federal signifies that it was a government in which most of the powers that affected people’s everyday lives, the so-called police powers, were retained by the states and the local governments.
That was the point of the 9th and 10th Amendments in the Bill of Rights:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
That was the point in giving equal representation to every state in the Senate and of directing that Senators were to be elected by their own state legislatures (subsequently repealed by the liberal-progressive-socialist sponsored 17th Amendment).
Today our government is very far removed from what was intended in 1776 and 1787, when the Constitution was crafted in Philadelphia.
It’s time for all of us to refocus on original principles, to abandon our greedy pursuit of welfare-state handouts, and to return to the most basic of all underlying principles of the Declaration and the Constitution: Judeo-Christian morality.