Photo Credit: Library of Congress, painting by J. Trumbell
It’s the 4thof July and so today we celebrate America’s separation from British rule, formally ratified through the Declaration of Independence.
It’s important to remember just how revolutionary this document was; both in laying out the ideals and principles of our young nation’s new government and in justifying breaking off from the oppression of Great Britain. It was the philosophical basis of a government that exercised power only by consent of the governed, which was truly a radical concept for this time!
Most of human history to that point consisted of government ruling over its people with power always ceding to the wealthy and politically connected. The Declaration of Independence and its inspired creation, the Constitution, flipped this on its head and outlined the conditions of a free people whose rights and liberty are derived from God, not man.
Liberty was of course high on the minds of its authors, the Founding Fathers, who understood that for people to truly live well, the oppression of government must be tamed so the dignity and freedom of the human spirit can thrive.
So enjoy today’s festivities with your loved ones; the BBQ’s, the fireworks, the games, the fellowship. Just don’t forget to share a toast (perhaps with a Sam Adams Boston Lager?) in celebration of the freedoms we enjoy today because of the foresight and extreme sacrifices from those that came before us.
Cheers and Happy Independence Day!
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests”.-Patrick Henry
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”–Thomas Paine
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”-Benjamin Franklin
“The security of a free Constitution,” depends on “teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; . . . to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness,” and to unite “a speedy, but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect for the laws.” –George Washington
“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”-Thomas Jefferson
“Be it remembered, however, that liberty must at all hazards be supported . . . cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people . . . And the preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks, is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”-John Adams
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” –Benjamin Franklin
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”-Thomas Jefferson
Previous posts on this series of quotes from our Founding Fathers can be found, here, here and here.