We’re a young country. It’s easy to forget that when people are hurling indignation at the legacies of the imperfect pioneers of liberty who helped to establish this country that many of us still unashamedly love and are thankful for. Dwelling on our Founders’ faults makes many Americans want to distance themselves from them–to write them off as old, backward, dead guys (“What could they possibly have been thinking—and we’re still bailing them out for their misguided thoughts?!”).
The fact is we know exactly what they were thinking 244 years ago today. They wrote it down in the Declaration of Independence and signed their names to it–effectually signing and advertising their own death warrants.
They were thinking they owed the world a rational explanation for breaking from a government they claimed was trampling their rights (Declaration, paragraph 1).
They were thinking it’s plain as day that God made men equal and gave them rights to life, liberty, property ownership, and the pursuit of an earned income (paragraph 2).
They were thinking it’s obvious that any government’s limited purpose is to secure these rights (implying that governments trying to do more than this end up doing less; paragraph 2).
They were thinking that, clearly, people have the right to abolish a government that doesn’t secure these rights—as long as the people replace it with a government that does secure them (paragraph 2).
They were thinking of their obligation to pursue every peaceful solution imaginable before acting violently or destroying property (public or private; second-last paragraph).
They were thinking the above truths were worth standing on, even if it meant the loss of their lives, money, and reputations (last paragraph).
Well . . .
We at Forge think so too. Do you?
It’s because of our Founders, warts and all, that we have a reason, and the right, to wish you a happy Independence Day—which we proudly do, with all our hearts.
Michael T. Hamilton
Lead Editor, Good Comma Editing
Board Member, Forge Leadership Network