The Declaration of Independence - A Founder of the Day Interpretation
In honor of the 4th of July, I decided to have some fun.
Today's article is my interpretation of the Declaration of Independence. It is recounted in simple, modern English to make things easy to understand.
Of course any translation of this Founding Document will be imperfect, as entire essays can (and have) be written about each individual line. If you'd like to see how I came about my thinking, you can read my line-by-line interpretation here.
I also recommend you read the Declaration of Independence itself. I like to do it every 4th of July. You can find it here.
The Declaration of Independence
As Interpreted by Founder of the Day
When a revolutionary group decides to separate from it’s country, the proper thing to do is offer a statement telling the world why a change is needed.
Our reason for changing governments is based in the idea that all people are created equally and should have the opportunity to enjoy their lives without fearing the things they hold most dear will be taken from them.
The main job of government is to protect citizens from having their rights taken by other citizens.
When a government starts to abuse it's power, the citizens have the right to overthrow it and create a new government that suites them better.
Usually, if a government makes a few small mistakes, the people will let it slide. Generally, citizens would rather just complain about the government than risk their lives and careers by starting a revolution.
However, if a government oversteps its authority too many times then the people can, then the people MUST, get rid of it and start fresh.
This is where we colonists find ourselves. The King has repeatedly abused his authority with the goal of assuming a dictatorship. Here is a list of our complaints:
The King has refused to let us pass basic laws.
The King has stopped his chosen leaders from doing most business and has ignored them when they need assistance.
He will only pass laws in the Colonies if we give up the ability to participate in his government.
He makes representatives of the people meet at times and in places that are nearly impossible to get to. This is a tactic aimed at getting us to concede our rights.
Every time we complain about his abuses, the King stops our elected representatives from holding their meetings.
While being kept without our representatives, we have no government. In this situation, we cannot resolve any economic or political problems, nor can we defend ourselves if invaded.
The King has stopped us from being able to attract new settlers to the colonies.
He has withheld judges from us, hurting the rule of law.
The judges we do have get paid by the King, and therefore do what he wants instead of what is right and fair.
He makes pointless offices as a reason to send people here and give us trouble.
His military has invaded our cities.
He has filled the streets with a police force whose procedures we have no control over.
The King has worked with Parliament to create laws that are unconstitutional.
Instead of putting their soldiers in forts, they are stationed in our homes.
When these soldiers commit crimes, they are protected from punishment.
The King and Parliament have cut off our trade with the rest of the world.
They have given us taxation without representation.
They have taken away the benefits of a trial by jury.
They make up crimes and takes us across the Atlantic Ocean for the trial.
Additionally, the King and Parliament have set up Quebec with French laws while expanding its territory all the way to the Midwest. This is obviously to set an example of what we can expect in the future.
They have also taken away the Charters which created our colonies. We had always controlled our own affairs, but now our government is a shadow of what it was.
Despite us being across the ocean, running our own affairs for over a hundred years, we are now told that the King and Parliament control all of our laws in all situations.
The King has proven he is no longer our leader by starting a war against us.
His war has destroyed our communities.
He has hired a bunch of German soldiers to come here and brutally murder us.
He has captured our citizens and forced them to fight against their friends and family.
He has turned our people against themselves and he has convinced the Native Americans to attack us.
We have asked over and over again for the King to listen to our complaints and have repeatedly been ignored. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it must be a duck. This King walks and talks like a dictator. He is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Also, we kept telling the people of England about the problems we’ve been having. We have reminded them that we are from the same families and have the same beliefs. They too have ignored us. Therefore, as we separate, we must now treat them as if they were from any other country: enemies in war, friends in peace.
Because of this long list of complaints, on be half of the people of these colonies, we Declare ourselves Independent from Great Britain. We are the United States of America, and we can do anything that is expected of a sovereign nation. To support this decision, we pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
I hope you enjoyed this interpretation. We will get back to our usual daily Founders tomorrow so make sure you subscribe to the email list to receive each article straight to your inbox.
Also, the Declaration of Independence is our Reading of the Month so make sure you give it a read and let me know what you find interesting. Is there a phrase you never noticed before? Is there a grievance you never considered? Leave a comment and let's talk about it!
The Declaration is free. You can find it everywhere. But every American household should have one. Mine (well one of mine) is linked below. If you purchase it through Amazon you will be supporting this site at no additional cost to you. Enjoy!