Declaration of Independence – Chapter 3

Facts and Statistics About the Declaration of Independence.
 
“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”.
 
This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language“, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy and argued that it is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.
 
The Declaration is a beautifully written document that officially announced that the United States were no longer part of Great Britain. That these United States were establishing a new idea of government; one whose leadership did not govern by divine right, but was chosen by the people for the people themselves. This new government’s job was to protect the “Rights” of its citizens.
 
The Declaration was signed by 56 delegates and contains 27 grievances against the King of England. The Declaration of Independence is the birth certificate for the United States and serves as the Foundational Document for the United States of America. The US Constitution is built upon the Declaration and was written in a way intended to ensure protections against grievances outlined in the Declaration.
 
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
 
Two of the Signers were 26 at the time of the signing. Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749) edged out Thomas Lynch Jr. (August 5, 1749) by just over three months to be the youngest Signer.
 
John Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister, and Lyman Hall was a pastor, teacher, and physician. Eight Signers were born in Europe. James Smith, George Taylor and Matthew Thorton were born in Ireland. Robert Morris and Button Gwinnett were born in England. James Wilson and John Witherspoon were born in Scotland. Finally, Francis Lewis was born in Wales. Pennsylvania had the largest number of representatives with nine Signers. The second largest group came from Virginia, which had seven Signers. Four signers were physicians, 24 were lawyers, and one was a printer. The remaining signers were mostly merchants or plantation owners.
 
While there were early versions that stated that we have inalienable rights, in the final version, we have unalienable rights.
 
The Declaration of Independence has been read and talked about more than any other American document. There are many books, essays, and treatises written about it. And yet, there are many different opinions about what the ideas in it really mean.  It helps to give a look into what it means to be American.
 
Some believe the declaration is all about individualism. Others see it as promoting civic engagement and participation in groups.
 
Historians see the Declaration as a way to define who an American is. Judges and lawyers use the document in the political process when creating and interpreting laws. In the next Chapter, we will begin to break down the Declaration into digestible components so that it can digested, explained, and understood. You will even get a chance to try to decide on your own point of view.
 
 
“We find it hard to believe that liberty could ever be lost in this country. But it can be lost, and it will be, if the time ever comes when these documents are regarded not as the supreme expression of our profound belief, but merely as curiosities in glass cases.”
~President Harry Truman, December 15, 1952
 
 
“We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must hang together.”
~John Hancock, July 4, 1776
 
 
“I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”
~Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852
 
 
Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?”
~Benjamin Rush, Pennsylvania delegate, July 20, 1811

 

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…”
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

 

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual…… Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
~John Hancock, History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

 

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see”
~Benjamin Franklin

 

“The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!”
~Benjamin Rush

 

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
~George Washington

 

“Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”
~James Madison
 
 
References:
 
Allen Jayne, (2015). Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 48
 
Benson J. Lossing, (1870). Lives of the signers of the Declaration of American independence. Evans, Stoddart & Co. p. 292.
 
Benson J. Lossing, (1888). Our Country: A Household History for All Readers, from the Discovery of America to the Present Time, Volume 3. Appendix: Amies Publishing Company. p. 1-10.
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, P.162
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 180-182
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 200-202
 
Bernard Bailyn, (2017). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Anniversary edition, Pg. 224–225
 
David McCullough, (2015). 1776, Simon and Schuster The Declaration of Independence: A History, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
 
Dumas Malone, (1948). Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time, Vol. 1 , Little, Brown and Company; 17th ptg. Edition, p. 221
 
Federalist No. 39, paragraph 2
 
Ian Christie and Benjamin Labaree, (1976). Empire or independence, 1760-1776: A British-American dialogue on the coming of the American Revolution, Phaidon Press; 1st Edition edition, p. 31
 
John Adams, (1776). “Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume: 3 January 1, 1776 – May 15, 1776”. Letter to James Warren
 
John M. Murrin, Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, (2013). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume I: To 1877, Concise Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 121
 
Joseph Ellis, (2007). American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic, Knopf Publishing, pg. 55–56
 
Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 53-57
 
Pauline Maier, (1998). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Vintage; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition, pg. 125-128
 
Richard Kollen, (2004). Lexington: From Liberty’s Birthplace to Progressive Suburb. Arcadia Publishing. p. 27
 
Robert Middlekauff, (2007). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789,  Oxford University Press; Revised, Expanded edition, pg. 241–242
 
Stephen E. Lucas, (1989). Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 85
 
Stephen E. Lucas, (2012). The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence  Thomas Jefferson, (1825). TO HENRY LEE – Thomas Jefferson The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816–1826
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
https://www.theologyofwork.org, accessed 10 Sep 2019