The final installment of my reflections of the Declaration of Independence for this July 4th week.
“Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British 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 first thought wasn’t to separate from Great Britain. There were attempts to make things better. There were appeals for justice to occur and for equality to be reinstated. There is a chance for change and forgiveness. Only after repeated attempts at failed reconciliation did they turn to separation. On one hand it would seem easier to split than to make an effort to solve the issue. But we should not go for what is easier. We should try to reconcile. Yet if these attempts go unheard and unacknowledged, at least we know we tried, and then separation would be a healthy option for preserving freedom.
“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. 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 concluding, separation became necessary. They fought for what they believed was right; they fought to preserve their freedom and quality of life. And the ending sentence is so powerful. “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They knew that this decision would be met with hostility and aggression. They knew that they would pay a price and suffer losses for this fighting. There are some who would rather continue to deal with the oppression then to fight for the freedom which will cost them. If we wont be there to reap the benefits, then why bother? But the writers of the declaration pledged to each other for the benefit of future generations. They knew that a sacrifice had to be made in order to preserve the well-being of generations to come, even if they wouldn’t be able to fully experience it themselves.
I am grateful that they did.