This & That

Story published: 06-19-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Approaching Fourth of July prompts a look into American democracy

By Jack Swift

In just a few days America will celebrate and commemorate Independence Day or as it is often called the Fourth of July. It is a day set aside to remember the signing of one of the most important documents in the history of mankind: the Decoration of Independence. There will be cookouts, fireworks, and a lot of flag waving as Americans celebrate the occasion and rightly so.

That great document was authored by Thomas Jefferson, and signed by him and 55 others — Men from each of the then 13 Colonies. The signing of that document was a heroic act. As each of the men put pen to paper, they realized they were putting themselves in danger. In fact the last sentence of the Declaration concludes with: “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.”

The first paragraph establishes the desire to break away from the tyranny of Great Britain. One of the greatest concepts written into that noble document were these words: “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.”

The document then establishes that the people of the United States of America (there were only 13 states at that time) have a right to separate from British rule. The next part of the Declaration emphasizes the several grievances against the British King (King George III). The concluding paragraph includes the following words:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent states, that they are Absolved from all Allegiances to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and independent states, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent states may of right do. — 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.

John Hancock was the first to sign his name to the Document in large embellished letters.

It is interesting to note that there is recognition by the Declaration of Independence that there is a higher power.

That recognition is shown by the following phrases: “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” “Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world,” and “Devine Providence.”

So, have a nice cookout with plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers and all the fixings, display the American flag properly, listen to the patriotic speeches, but remember without the vision and heroism of those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, our history would have been much different.