Just what was it that led a group of 56 men–among them doctors, educators, and clergy–aged 26 to 70, to sign a treasonous document that would break the bonds between the 13 colonies and Mother England? It wasn’t wealth. It wasn’t fame. It wasn’t glory.
On the contrary, disaster and ruin were the lot of many of the signers. Nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were jailed and brutally treated. One lost all 13 of his children; and the wives, sons and daughters of others were killed, imprisoned, harassed or deprived of all material possessions. Seventeen signers lost everything they owned, and all were hunted as traitors, with most separated from home and family. But none of the signers ever betrayed his pledged word. There were no defectors. No one changed his mind. Lives and fortunes were lost, but their sacred honor was never sacrificed.
What piece of paper could they have valued so highly that they willingly jeopardized their property, their liberty, their lives? What piece of paper could they have revered so highly that they were willing to pit a poorly equipped and badly trained militia of 10,000 men against an armada of British ships with 42,000 sailors? What piece of paper could they have esteemed so highly that they signed with trembling hand but resolute heart?
That piece of paper was The unanimous Declaration of the United States of America, which said in part:
“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.”
Freedom was not free for those Colonial patriots who committed treason 236 years ago. Nor is it free today. But the further removed generations are from that two centuries old insubordination and the ensuing conflagration, the dimmer the magnitude of their dedication and sacrifice. In the comfort and security of freedom we are complacent; we take that great gift for granted. Now we find ourselves in similar bonds of slavery as those who declared independence from England two centuries ago. We find the right to life, liberty and property threatened, not by an absent king, but by an increasing almighty and ever-present government; a government that has “erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
In the “Seven Principles of Animalism” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, those in power deliberately, letter by letter, smeared and blurred and eventually erased the seven original principles. The animals shook their heads and rubbed their eyes in astonishment and incredulity at the changes, but in the end were convinced that only one Principle had ever existed. It read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Today we rub our eyes and shake our heads in astonishment and incredulity. . .
-that Politicians who wanted a means of legal plunder have changed the meaning of “welfare” from “the state of faring well” to “the redistribution of wealth.”
-that Freedom of religion and speech and the press have mutated to abolition of religion, politically correct speech, and an advocacy press.
-that “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” has metamorphosed into a protection for criminals–who acquire their guns on the black market–while law-abiding citizens are having them stripped away.
-that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” has been trampled by governmental agencies that trespass on private land in search of endangered species which are used to confiscate the land.
-that State Powers have been appropriated by the Federal Government via legislation, executive order and bureaucratic regulation.
-and that as State Powers have been usurped, so is American sovereignty threatened by the United Nations.
In the song, “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood says, “the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Every new regulation takes freedoms away. Every new bureaucracy takes freedoms away. Every new government intrusion takes freedoms away. Our Americanism and our Constitution are on the endangered species list, and it’s time to reclaim both.
This essay was written by Sara Jo DuHamel, a teacher and patriot, who passed away in 1998 from breast cancer.
The Contract with America the story of the Constitution