Happy Independence Day! This is the 238th Anniversary of our nation’s independence. Around this time every year, I start to question why our founding fathers wanted a new nation and what they were looking for. Why didn’t they just want to stick with England? Everything would have been better that way! The answer is actually quite simple. The Founding Fathers were a revolutionary group, diverse in their professions and yet unified in their goal: American liberty. They understood that the citizens should have a say in their government and that the government only derives its legitimate power from the consent of the governed. When Thomas Jefferson penned those timeless, eloquent words of freedom in the Declaration of Independence, it sent political shock waves around the world:
“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.”
While you might read these words as if they were everyday words, this was a confrontation to what many nations had been doing forever. Thomas Jefferson is saying that, in their new nation, kings did not automatically have supreme authority. This, more than likely, shocked the rest of the world. You can only imagine what England was thinking!
Thus begun a radical shift in political thought. Individuals are not given rights by a government or king, the power of that government or king must be justly derived from the consent of the governed. Rights would no longer be given to the people by the government, the government would be given limited rights from the people. America would be a land of freedom and opportunity, with minimal government intrusion, a limited central government that would simply protect the people and maintain a safe environment for them to pursue happiness in any way that they saw fit.
So remember that today! You live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. However, it will not remain that way if we turn away from the principles that this nation was founded on. You and I must fight to protect our rights and our country.
Happy Independence Day!