Click to go to other BBHQ pages
  privacy | contact us | FAQ | member services | BBHQ newsletter | this week’s essay | site nav | mobile?

Click here for great pictures, posters & autographs

BBHQ Boomer Essays:

The Declaration of Independence — What it Says; What it Means

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

We all know what the Declaration of Independence is. We learned that in school. Many of us can quote some of the words. “When in the course of human events....” We all have a basic understanding of the significance of the Declaration of Independence. But after all the years since graduation from high school, do we really know what the Declaration of Independence says? Do we have a clear understanding of what it means? I think that most of us... perhaps all of us, could benefit from some clarification.

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

We all know what the Declaration of Independence is. Many of us can quote some of the words. “When in the course of human events....” We all have a basic understanding of the significance of the Declaration of Independence. We learned that in school. As I recall, Mrs. Jones, my 11th grade History teacher, proclaimed it to be one of the five most important works of art ever created. Yes, she called it a work of art. Second on her list was, of course, the Constitution. (I forgot almost immediately what the other works on her list were. But when I was 16, I filled in the empty slots with my own choices as follows: “A-hab the A-rab,” “I'm Henry the 8th, I Am,” and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost over Night.”)

After all the years since graduation from high school, do we really know what the Declaration of Independence says? Do we have a clear understanding of what it means? The circumstances and hardships under which the colonists lived in 1776 are far different that those today. The words and phraseology used in the 18th century may make it difficult for us to easily interpret what the founders meant. I think that most of us... perhaps all of us, could benefit from some clarification.

(Click the pic to enlarge it; click again to shrink it.)

Settlers had been abandoning their homes and their lives in Europe for over a century. They came to the new land primarily to exercise the right to practice the religion of their own choice. They wanted to distance themselves from the strong arm of the king of England. Yet, though they were thousands of miles away, the new land and the settlers were still considered to be a part of England, officially governed by British law.

The colonists considered the laws imposed upon them to be oppressive, unfair, and unreasonably restrictive. They believed that the king did not properly consider the conditions of the colonists as he imposed taxes and other conditions.

By the early 1770s, they had had enough. The Articles of Association, ratified by the colonies in 1774, established the 13 colonies as a union.

Though only about a third of the colonists actively and openly supported independence, in June, 1776, leaders of the Continental Congress, the local government of the colonies, prepared a declaration of independence from England. Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the document. But many others were involved in producing the final version. On July 4, the Continental Congress published their declaration.

The following is what the Declaration of Independence says, and what it means:

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.



The declaration is unanimous, supported by all of the colonies, now referred to as the united States of America.

Laying the foundation for the declaration, the founders referenced “Laws of Nature,” a concept which had been developed years before. The Laws of Nature are not established by man, but by God.

When making such a declaration, a people should state clearly and respectfully their reasons for doing so.

This is a rational, mature predicate for what is, literally, a revolutionary step to be taken by the colonies.


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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.” They are obvious and indisputable. Period.

The founders based the declaration on an essential and critical moral principle. They explicitly stated that all men (read: all human beings) are created as equal human beings. None is born on a higher moral or social plane than any other. Fundamental rights of humans include life, liberty — basic freedom from oppression — and the right to pursue individual happiness. These are not rights established by a king, or a congress, or a government. These rights are established by God.

These rights cannot be taken away or invalidated by any human being. Thus, these rights are superior to any law passed or enforced by any human or man-made institution.

Government is empowered by no other authority than the people. Government exists to protect the rights of the individual.

If and when the government fails this most basic responsibility, people have a right to separate themselves from that government.

Such a declaration is not made lightly and should not be undertaken frivolously.

Human nature leads men to accept such continued injustices rather than take the severe, extreme actions necessary to overturn them.

This, then, is the expression by the founders of the purpose and responsibility of a government. It is brilliant, profound, and critically important to the foundation of any just government.


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.

The people have not only a right, but a duty to discard the government and establish one for themselves — a government by the people.

The king has repeated violated the rights of the colonists, thus necessitating the extreme action of a declaration of independence.


He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

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.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.

The declaration identifies a series of grievances against British rule. The King has:

      • forbidden the colonies to establish their own laws;

      • refused to pass laws protecting the colonists and recognizing their needs.

      • deliberately made it difficult for colonists to participate in the formation of laws.

      • structured the military force above the people, and thus not responsible to the people.

      • created a multi-layered bureaucracy within the government that severely interferes with and diminishes peoples’ lives and their rights.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

The king has oppressively forced his military forces upon and among the colonists, and allowed those military forces to commit crimes against the people without punishment.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

The king has forbidden open trade by the colonists with other countries, thus restricting their ability to improve and enhance their lives.


For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

Taxation without representation.” The colonists have not been consulted about the imposition of taxes, nor given any authority to accept, alter or reject them.


For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:

The king has unfairly imposed legal actions upon the colonists.

For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislature, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

The king has ignored and abolished the legal system established by the colonists. He has imposed British laws upon the colonists, laws which do not reflect the living conditions in and circumstances of the colonies.

In effect, the king has waged a war against the colonies.


He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

The king as intentionally and repeatedly destroyed the land, the livelihood, and the lives of colonists.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

The king has forced colonists to wage war against themselves. He has encouraged others to fight against the colonists.

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.

The king has failed to recognize and act upon the repeated requests by the colonists to address their concerns.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our Brittish 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.

The colonists have been extremely patient, awaiting fair and just treatment by the king. Such treatment has not been accorded. Therefore, the colonists have no other reasonable choice but to separate themselves from British rule.

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.

This is the actual statement of declaration of independence. The colonists are hereby politically and ideologically independent of Britain. They no longer have to offer any allegiance to the British crown. They are not bound by any British law, nor are they under any control of British military forces.

As a separate country, the united colonies now possess all of the rights of an independent country, including the rights to protect itself, by force, if necessary; to establish alliances with foreign governments; and establish their own system of commerce among themselves and other nations.


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.

In this magnificent and bold final paragraph, the founders express their absolute belief in and total commitment to this declaration. They believe that God will protect their declaration, and they offer the ultimate personal sacrifice in order to preserve it.


John Hancock
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
Geo. Walton
Wm. Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
Edward Rutledge
Thos. Heyward, Junr.
Thomas Lynch, Junr.
Arthur Middleton
Samuel Chase
Wm. Paca
Thos. Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Th. Jefferson
Benja. Harrison
Thos. Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton
Robt. Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benja. Franklin
John Morton
Geo. Clymer
Jas. Smith
Geo. Taylor
James Wilson
Geo. Ross
Caesar Rodney
Geo. Read
Tho. Mckean
Wm. Floyd
Phil. Livingston
Frans. Lewis
Lewis Morris
Richd. Stockton
Jno. Witherspoon
Fras. Hopkinson
John Hart
Abra. Clark
Josiah Bartlett
Wm. Whipple
Saml. Adams
John Adams
Robt. Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Step. Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
Wm. Williams
Oliver Wolcott
Matthew Thornton

Not all of the signatories affixed their names to the document on July 4th. Some were not able to sign until 2-3 weeks afterwards.

These men were risking their lives by signing this document. They were looked upon by the British as traitors. The names of some of the brave men were not revealed for many months.

Freedom: Of Thee I Cherish, 10 essays that clearly explain why our freedom is so special and why we should all cherish it, is available as an e-book.

Buy it, read it now, for only $2.99.


The Last Word

This most cherished and brilliant document warns that a people should be very cautious before attempting to create a new government. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.” But the founders also note that it is easier to allow a series of injustices to infect our lives than to take a stand and challenge and eliminate them. “Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Surely our government and our living conditions are infinitely better than those of the colonists. But have we been too comfortable, allowing evils to grow and permeate our lives? Does our government in the 21st century live up to the principles of the Declaration of Independence?

That notion is worthy of careful consideration. And if our government no longer serves us as our founders envisioned, what should we do to raise ourselves up to the level that our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor?


The BBHQ Freedom Series

(Mouseover to preview each story)

essays available to everyone

  Declaration of Independence
        What is Says; What it Means

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: From our Cities and Locales quiz, these lyrics are certainly not rock and roll. They come from a traditonal American song that we knew from... way back. Today, we hear it usually only on one special day of the year when this locale takes center stage across the country: Oh, the sun shines bright on my old ___________ home.

Your final answer is....




BBHQ Membership -- $9 Per Year -- Here's What You'll Get:

  • Access to hundreds of boomer stories about
        boomers, growing up, growing older,
        staying young, staying smart,
        and remembering the good ol' days
  • 18 books in the BBHQ Trivia Library
  • BBHQ’s Name That Tune quizzes
  • Who Said That?
  • What’s in a Number?
  • What’s in a Number? - R&R edition
  • The Name Game
  • The Boomer Movie Quiz
  • A BBHQ Time Capsule Report
  • Unlimited access to lyrics to over 750 songs
  • Search the title and artist of over 4,000 oldies
  • Search 750 song lyrics for a word or phrase
  • Print the boomer verbal collages -
         (Home Page/60s/70s pages)
  • Access to other special features
  • The great comfort of knowing that you
        have helped save us from financial
        disaster. (We are too small to fail.)

 


$9 per year... come on!

All we need here is your name and e-mail address:

First name:     Last name:

E-mail address: Please enter this security

1 year, $9         5 years, $35   (save $10)

                 

We'll send you to PayPal.com to process your payment; then, PayPal will send you back here as a new member. Your payment will go through the secure, encrypted services of PayPal.com, the most trusted Internet payment system.









Click here for great pictures, posters & autographs

If you want a reply from us, include your name
and e-mail address:

(Your message will not get to our staff unless you include your name and e-mail address.
But we will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
Our statement on privacy is here.)

Name:
E-mail:

Hershel's kinda-like-a bio:
 Click here for a quick explanation about the philosophy behind these essays




essays available
      to everyone

We're Not the Bad
Guys!


 Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)
"Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)," 55 songs: 2 CDs and a DVD from their last concert tour.
Click here to order this great collection.




The Boomer Essays - On Being a Boomer:

The BBHQ Freedom Series

(Mouseover to preview each story)

essays available to everyone

  Declaration of Independence
        What is Says; What it Means

The Boomer Health Care Series
    (Mouseover to preview each story)

The Midlife

Crisis Series

Middle Age &

the Mazdamobile

The Teach, Preach and Nag Series
    (Mouseover to preview each story)




    (Mouseover to preview each story)

essays available to everyone

Hell No; We Won't Go!

    What Will We Do?

    Do Not Go Gentle

The Boomer Money Series
    (Mouseover to preview each story)

The BBHQ Vacation Series
(Mouseover to preview each story)




Please help us by buying stuff through our link to Amazon.com:

Search:   All Products   Books   Videos   Toys   Electronics
        Popular Music   Classical Music  
Amazon.com
Amazon.com... a whole lot more than just books!
Enter keyword(s):
Please check our Library or Video selection, or use this form to buy stuff from Amazon.com. We need all the help we can get! Thanks.

The BBHQ Feature Album is "Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)," by Simon & Garfunkel. If you were fortunate enough to see them in concert in 2003, I do not have to sell you. The concert was terrific! This album collection includes 55 songs, plus their new recording, "Citizen of the Planet," and one of the songs sung by the Everly Brothers during the concert. The DVD was recorded during their concert in Madison Square Garden in 2003. For any S&G fan, this is a must have! But then, you knew that already, didn't you?  Old Friends Live on Stage (Deluxe Edition) (2 CD/1 DVD)

The BBHQ Feature Book is “Bobby Rydell – Teen Idol on the Rocks.” This is a “behind the scenes” story of one of the boomers’ first rock n’ roll stars. Told in the first person, Bobby chronicles his short ride to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his glide through the 70s and 80s, and how he nearly lost it all. Relax; it has a happy ending. Bobby was (and is) a “normal” Philly guy... with an absolute love of music and an amazing gift. For any fan of early rock n’ roll, it’s a wonderful story. And yes, Bobby Rydell is still on tour, playing to boomer fans all over the world. Click here for a closer look at the book.

  Click to go to other BBHQ pages
  privacy | contact us | FAQ | member services | BBHQ newsletter | this week’s essay | site nav | mobile?










Copyright © 1997-2017, Baby Boomer HeadQuarters - WWW.BBHQ.COM - All rights reserved._
contact the Webmaster