How well do you actually know the Declaration of Independence?

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather QuillThe Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents of our time.  And yet, a huge majority of our citizens – if they’ve ever truly studied/read it in their lives – never read it, study it or seek to understand it.

This document, above all others, establishes what America is today.  Many Americans, while they may appreciate being free, do not understand their freedom, what it means, where it comes from or even – what it is.  Perhaps part of the barrier is the old English used in it.  Even more particularly, the ongoing obfuscation and confusion of what establishment language meant in the sustained attack on the core of our freedoms.

Fully understanding much of it, especially the charges portion, requires an education of Colonial History.  It is also very helpful to understand the lineage of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Concepts which had been evolving since the Magna Carta and had been codified as recently as 1689 in the English Bill of Rights deeply influenced and served as the baseline for the concepts of proper government that was established by our Founding Fathers.

Simply put, the Declaration of Independence is not a casual read, it is not an uneducated read, it is not something that should be rarely read.  Having the stature of being the document that first enumerated our rights, then defines the proper role of government, then defines grievances by government that justify replacing government and finally declares our country independent of the country that financed its creation – this document truly  merits clear understanding and regular reading for review.

It must be further understood that the Declaration of Independence, in combination with the Constitution of the U.S., delineate and provide the basis for every Right and Freedom every American enjoys.  The Bill of Rights in the Constitution was not originally included in the Constitution.  Many of the Founding Fathers considered it self-evident that the Rights which were acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence were, as declared, unalienable and that no law could be put in place to impugn them.  Some of the colonies refused to sign the Constitution until those rights were acknowledged in it.

It is also imperative to understand this: The Constitution does not confer rights, it does not assign them, it does not even state that we have those rights.  The Constitution is a framework for governance.  It has one goal and only one goal – to restrain the Federal Government.  Reading the Bill of Rights with that understanding is completely self-validating.  It is also important to understand that the Declaration of Independence likewise does not confer or assign rights to us.  It acknowledges our Rights as unalienable - endowed upon us by whatever we believe created us.  In other words, our Rights are not given to us by the government.

If the government gave us our rights, it would conceivably have the authority to take those rights from us – or to change or infringe on them.  The government has no such right or authority.  Any attempt by the government to infringe on our unalienable rights is a move of tyranny – of an oppressive government.  The Declaration of Independence makes it abundantly clear: we also have the right, even the responsibility, and most certainly the permission to overthrow and replace a tyrannical government.

If none of this is familiar to you and you grew up in America and have been through American schools, you need to ask yourself – Why don’t you know this?

Americans have been actively conditioned through school, the news, political discourse, societal “norms”, etc to disregard much of this.  Why do you think that is?  Why would anyone want to prevent you from deeply understanding your roots, where your freedoms come from and most importantly: how you keep them.  Ponder those things as we help you learn, or learn more of, what you should have known for most of your life.  Once you have a firm understanding of this document, consider answering some of those questions.

There are four Sections to this Series:

How well do you know the Declaration of Independence?
Introduction and Principles of Government
The Grievances
Tolerances, Appeals and Declaring Independence