Judge Andrew Napolitano: Our Declaration of Independence and the decision to revolt against Britain

Historians have estimated from studying letters, pamphlets, sermons, essays, newspaper editorials and speeches from that period that solely about one-third of the colonists favored utilizing power to secede. But that one-third whipped the winds of change.


At hand was the decision to revolt and to make an comprehensible argument in its assist. Congress represented the radicals who wished the British authorities gone. Neither the one-third of the public that wished it to keep nor the one-third that didn’t care had a voice in Philadelphia.

In the late spring of the yr of revolution, Congress appointed a committee of 5 to compose a doc stating the causes for leaving the mom nation. One was Thomas Jefferson, and he was assigned the process by the different 4 of drafting the doc. He wrote 4 drafts, the closing of which the committee offered to Congress.

Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. It was dated July 4th and not absolutely signed till later that summer time. The vote was unanimous. The phrase went forth to the 13 colonies that they had been now free and unbiased.

The phrase additionally went forth to the king — whom the British individuals believed was divinely chosen to rule over them — who interpreted the Declaration as an act of treason and an invite to battle.

The Declaration’s essence is that every one individuals have equal pure rights that no authorities can take away by laws or command. Those rights can be utilized freely to pursue and defend life, liberty and happiness.

The Declaration’s essence is that every one individuals have equal pure rights that no authorities can take away by laws or command. Those rights can be utilized freely to pursue and defend life, liberty and happiness. Those rights can be used to consent or not to consent to a authorities. And the solely reputable position of authorities is to defend the rights of those that consented.

This principle, which Jefferson crafted, was the most radical principle of authorities at the time. No king, no ruler, no edicts crushing private freedom — only a common authorities born in the consent of the ruled and restricted to defending their rights.


The authorities wouldn’t come about, of course, till the bloody battle was accomplished. In actuality, the actual revolution was accomplished by July 4, 1776 as a result of it was a revolution of minds greater than of authorities. The colonists weren’t making an attempt to kill the king — as the French would quickly do — they simply wished him gone.

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Ah, however the revolution of males’s minds — the concept that the authorities was not reputable except consented to and restricted, that particular person private freedom, not authorities energy, is the default place; all of this was stirred up by the radicals, articulated by Jefferson, embraced by Congress, achieved by blood and acquiesced by the king — was as a lot a change for our forbearers as was the violence against the British.

They had been free. The revolutionary spirit of most particular person liberty and minimal authorities embraced and personified America in July 1776.

Where did it go?

Today, we have now authorities — at the native, state and federal ranges — that claims authority to proper any fallacious, regulate any habits, tax any occasion and switch any wealth as long as it might discover public assist.

What as soon as was a authorities that wanted the consent of the ruled not solely to exist but in addition to do something is now one which requires of us its permission to do almost every part. What as soon as had been liberties assured are actually liberties mocked.

How is it that males and girls take oaths to uphold the liberties that the founders risked all to obtain and then enter workplace and ignore them? If I can legally refuse well being care, why can’t I legally take the probability of exercising my rights to journey and assemble whether or not that exposes me to contagion or not? Is not amongst the freedoms Jefferson wrote about the freedom to take probabilities?

Are legal guidelines written to protect liberty or to implement order? Is the idea of the consent of the ruled actual or is it make-believe? Does liberty increase in every era or does it shrink?

Does the authorities actually consider that our liberties are pure and it lacks legitimacy with out our particular person consent? Has any dwelling individual truly consented to the authorities we now have or is the perception that we have now consented to the authorities merely a fantasy?

When Jefferson and his buddies revolted from the king, they, too, engaged in just a little fantasy. They coined a well-liked phrase that they didn’t actually imply however caught fireplace with the colonists: “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”


They didn’t imply it, as a result of they didn’t really need to ship representatives to Parliament. They wished their very own small authorities, and they wished it right here. But the colonists had been sick of taxes imposed by London aristocrats.

Are all males created equal or are they not? Does the authorities have our consent or does it not? Are our liberties pure to our existence or are they not?


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