The Fourth of July is almost here and most of the country probably has its eyes on the hot dogs, pastries, fireworks, and all else that comes with the holiday. On this day, people can go all out showing off their patriotic side but it is also a time in which we can reflect on how far the country has come from the time we signed the Declaration of Independence.
In the first part, the document references the freedom to overturn a government and the equality of all people — a notion that, given the U.S.' slave-based economy, was extremely ironic at that point in history, and is something that the U.S. is sadly still working on improving. The second part of the declaration, however, is the portion in which the offenses that King George III committed against the colonists and his people are enumerated. Though this list was meant to represent why the colonists sought independence from the tyrant, some of these reasons do not sound too different from how the present day U.S. government has used its power.
These are a few that stood out to me.
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”
Sounds like politics to me, especially when they do not stop with their pesky fundraising emails. Now they really have been eating out people’s substances.
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.”
Does this ring a bell to anyone? Let’s think specifically about national debt . This may not exactly be an example of what the grievance was referring to but ultimately, it is the same concept.
“He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”
When I read this grievance, I think of gerrymandering, the practice in which politicians manipulate district boundaries to gain a political advantage. The only difference between gerrymandering and the grievance in the declaration is that when redistricting occurs, the people whose voices are being stifled do not and really cannot choose to relinquish their rights to representation in the legislature in order to be accommodated. In fact, the people who go unaccommodated are the people who already are poorly represented.
Want to see for yourself if the founding fathers were realistic or, in hindsight, a bit too ambitious in their vision for the future of the American political system? Read the declaration for yourself.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
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. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
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.