This year, our country is celebrating its 245th birthday; and most people will commemorate the occasion with barbecues, fireworks, back-yard parties, or a trip to the beach. We, however, would like us to take a moment to reflect on what a remarkable document the Declaration of Independence is.
First, let me begin by saying that it was penned by one of my favorite land surveyors, Thomas Jefferson, who was only 33 years old at the time. Jefferson knew that King George III was not merely going to give up the 13 colonies because we asked nicely. After all, England had the most powerful military in the world. So Jefferson crafted the letter to appeal to multiple audiences. His goals were to rally the troops, win the favor of foreign allies, and announce to the king (and the rest of the world) the creation of a new country.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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.”
These words were used to inspire Americans to leave the comforts of their homes and fight for liberty.
LIST OF GRIEVANCES:
Jefferson followed up this preamble with a list of 27 grievances against the king. These complaints served as proof of the right of rebellion. Among the grievances, he accused the king of:
- Creating unjust laws.
- Preventing people from other countries from migrating to the colonies.
- Raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
- Appointing officers to harass the people.
- Depriving citizens the right to trial by jury.
- Bribing judges in the courts to rule in his favor.
- Keeping armies during times of peace, and making those armies superior to civil power.
- Forcing colonists to feed & house those armies.
- Imposing taxes without the colonists’ consent.
- Taking away our Charters, suspending our Legislature, abdicating our Government, and waging war against us.
- Being a tyrant
Jefferson’s purpose in listing these grievances was to convince our citizens, and other countries, to join humankind’s fight against tyranny.
“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 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 Allegiance 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.”
In these words, Thomas Jefferson declares a complete break from England and its tyrant king, and claims the colonies to be an independent country.
In the years after 1776, the United States of America has continued in its efforts to fight against tyranny. In the last century we opposed such people as Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Emperor Hirohito, Muammar Gaddafi, and Saddam Hussein.
The 21st century brings with it new challenges for the United States. The most recent presidential election exposed the fact that we are currently a very divided nation. Perhaps we can look back at the Declaration of Independence and within its words, find the common bonds that unite us.
“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.”
Even within these walls, the employees at DL Howell and Howell Kline Surveying have differing political views and ideologies. But despite our differences, we are unanimous in declaring:
“We are proud to be Americans!”