This is America’s founding document, not the US Constitution.
It constitutes, to this day, the greatest leap forward for pro-civilization in the history of mankind.
Have you a real inkling of what you celebrate? Truly? Do you have a deep understanding of the critical essentials in the context of the times? Do you? Or, is it just beer, BBQ, and fireworks? Examine your own fortitude.
In an appropriately named resource, AMERICAN GREATNESS, published this piece right on time.
A fabulous article, in the highest traditions of fabulosity.
The eternal and universal principles used to craft an argument for severing ties with the British and laying the foundation for a new nation were successful in 1776, but their relevance did not end once America became an independent nation, as Lincoln recognized. The principles used as justification and explanation speak to all, as much today as they did 243 years ago. The Declaration is a measure that serves as a reference point, regardless of the time or of a particular set of circumstances. That we are created equal is not dependent upon our being American, or male or female, or our economic condition. It is a universal truth. That we have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not dependent upon the government that is in power.
That we have the right to alter our government if it becomes destructive of these rights is as true today as it was in 1776. That government is intended to secure our rights and derives its just powers from the consent of the governed reminds us that the foundation of the sovereignty of the people requires participation and vigilance. Consent is given on an ongoing basis and the judgment of whether the government is securing the rights of American citizens or thwarting them is a constant exercise. The words and themes of the Declaration have remained at the heart of American discourse because they provide a guide that is timeless.”
You should also check out the freed slave, Frederick Douglass’ most graceful eloquence, expounded upon in the piece.
…Then, something pops up, in comments, from a Japanese intellectual who I first encountered in 1991. I’ll just copypasta:
So this must be shared, a comment on one of my posts this morning . I take such things as obligations.
Back in 1991 I first read something this Jap dude, Yasuhiko Genku Kimura wrote and was astounded. It’s interesting to me how someone approaching a second language is so etymological about it.
If you’ve been watching our video discussions, Andy and I are very keen to have a discussion with Yasuhiko sometime soon.
The Declaration of Independence is the greatest manifesto of freedom and independence ever written. It is philosophical as well as it is political. The “Independence” in The Declaration has two meanings: (1) the independence, sovereignty, and freedom of the individual human being (from all forms of tyranny); (2) the independence of the American colonies (later the United States) from the British monarchy.
A research into the U.S. history and founding documents has led me to the studies done by several researchers and authors, which posit that Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense (January 10, 1776), was the actual author of the original draft of The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), which Thomas Jefferson and four others (in the Committee of Five) edited and revised to draw the final version.
Thomas Paine was an undistinguished Englishman when he came to America in October of 1774 at age 37 upon the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin. Yet, within 15 months of his arrival in the new continent, freed from the bound of the British class society, Paine published Common Sense on January 10, 1776, which remains to be the greatest bestseller of all times. It sold 500,000 copies within six months (and more people read it or heard it being read) when the total American population was only three million, which number, relative to today’s U.S. population, is equivalent of 50 million copies!
Before Common Sense, and thus before Thomas Paine, none of the Founders—not Washington, not Franklin, not Jefferson, not Adams, none, except perhaps Samuel Adams for a personal, not an ideological reason— was expressly for independence (the majority opinion and sentiment of the American colonists were overwhelmingly for a reconciliation with the British government).
After Common Sense, which cogently argued for independence with both reason and passion, all the Founders and a significant percentage of the American population (estimated to be about one third) became convinced that independence was the only moral and rational way for them. (Other one third remained neutral and another one third remained loyal to the British king.)
Then, as Rose Wilder Lane states in The Discovery of Freedom (1943), “Jefferson asked Paine to write a draft of The Declaration of Independence,” which Paine did. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams hand-copied the draft (Adams, it is evident, more faithfully). Thomas Jefferson, mainly, as well as the Committee of Five (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston), did the editing (and editing out) and the revisions on Jefferson’s handwritten copy, which was presented to the Congress and became the final version with everyone’s signature officially on July 4, 1776 (actually July 2, 1776). All of those who signed The Declaration (56 individuals) courageously risked their lives and many indeed suffered severe consequences..
John Adam’s handwritten copy of the draft has been kept as it was written, which is 99 plus percent identical in wording with Jefferson’s copy but with distinct marks of Paine’s writing style (e.g., Paine grew up in a strict Quaker family and Quakers used to capitalize the first letter of important pronouns, which rule Paine faithfully maintained all his life). Also, when you compare the styles of writing of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and The Declaration, as well as their ways of expressing ideas in writing and in deed, Paine’s authorship of the original draft becomes increasingly clearer.
Further, the “Slavery Clause” in the original draft was completely erased in the final version. This is one of the most unmistakable proofs of Paine’s authorship of the original. Jefferson remained throughout his life a slave owner. Not only Jefferson but also several other signers of The Declaration were wealthy slave owners, and Jefferson should have known that none of them would ever sign The Declaration with the Slavery Clause in it, and knowing this he would not have written and included it in the original.
(Thomas Paine was an original abolitionist, and actually helped abolish slavery and emancipate slaves in Pennsylvania in the 1780s.)
Long before this discovery, I had always felt the closest affinity to and the profoundest admiration for Thomas Paine amongst all of the Founders all of whom I highly respect. Thomas Paine and his epochal contributions remain relatively unknown, and often misunderstood or underappreciated by those who know (about) him and his work, because he was the victim of negative campaigns against him fraught with dishonest fabrications and prevarications.
Thomas Paine was a man of humble origin, unlike Thomas Jefferson and many other Founders and Framers. He was a foreigner, undistinguished in his own country prior to his coming to America and writing of Common Sense. He was a genius philosopher and an inspired writer who combined passion with impeccable logic and rationality.
While Paine was a brilliant political philosopher or even strategist, he was never a politician. He never compromised his philosophical principles for expediency. He was devoted to the idea and vision of freedom and independence, but never sought after power or fame. On subjects that mattered to him, he was outspoken with logic and passion, and never feigned humility or modesty.
The most devastating were, however, (1) the unfortunate misunderstanding that took place between Washington and Paine during the time Paine was in jail in France (waiting for a guillotine) and shortly after he was released; and (2) his visionary work The Age of Reason (which I started to write while in the French jail to complete before his “certain” death) was too ahead of his time and was universally condemned by the religious Americans.
Thus, he never gained popularity as a person and became a target of negative publicity and rumor, while deeply respected by those relative few who really knew him.