The cardinal expression of the American experiment is found in the political genius of the Declaration of
Independence. Within the text is a succinct summary of grievances and principles. It is also an explanation for actions necessary
to secure liberty. More than a compact among separate colonies, engaged in a war for independence, basic innate human rights
are acknowledged. Affirming the rightful authority for self governance - “deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed” - is the essential essence of Inherent Autonomy.
The designation - The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America - proclaims their affiliated association and distinct sovereignty. Based upon the universal pursuit for human
freedom, the forebearers in the struggle for independence, provide a heritage of declaration for Liberty.
The Declaration of Arbroath - 1320, the cornerstone of Scottish self-government, echoes the birthright and aspiration, centuries before. It speaks
to the natural drive to expel autarchy and achieve freedom:
‘Yet if he (Bruce) should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King
of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights
and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive,
never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that
we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.’
In an age of kings, the clans avowed their inheritance of independence. The annals of English monarchy are
replete with abuse and despotic rule. Nevertheless, the “rights of Englishmen” gradually spurted the rootstock
The harbinger and inspiration for the Jeffersonian vision can be found in The Virginia Declaration of Rights. It was used by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence.
Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when
they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment
of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Drafted by George Mason and amended by Thomas Ludwell Lee, this manifesto called for American independence to preserve Americans' fundamental
rights. It put forth the philosophy of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1690), heavily influenced by the Magna Carta.
The main themes were:
- All men have inherent rights to life, liberty, and property
- All power is vested in the people
- Government is established to benefit, not rule the people
- Leadership roles should not be hereditary
- Legislative and Executive Powers should be separate and distinct
- The principles of free elections
- Government can not suspend laws without the consent of the people
- The right to trial by jury and to confront witnesses
- There should be no cruel and unusual punishment
- Provisions to eliminate unlawful searches of persons or personal property
- Trial by jury is preferable and should be held sacred
- "Freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty"
- A well regulated militia is required to defend a free state
- People have a right to a uniform government
- Free government is preserved only by adherence to fundamental principles
- The freedom to practice religion according to personal reason and conviction
|The Right of Rebellion is Patriotic
|Liberty's Chief Foe is one's own Government
The Virginia Declaration of Rights was used as a model by other states.
From the research and writing by Jim Allison - Declaration of Independence - Its Purpose:
Pennsylvania's 1776 "Declaration of the Rights of... Inhabitants," in whose
creation Benjamin Franklin played a part, said "That all men are born equally free and independent," but changed the next
phrase so it said that all men "have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights".
The Massachusetts "Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants," which John
Adams drafted in 1780, said "All men are born free and equal," which was close to Mason, then rephrased the rest of the paragraph:
and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending
their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining
their safety and happiness.
New Hampshire said that "All men are born equally free and independent," then
offered still another version of Mason's statement on rights: All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights;
among which are-the enjoying and defending life and liberty-acquiring, possessing and protecting property-and in a word, of
seeking and obtaining happiness.
When Thomas Jefferson was given the charge to write the draft for the Declaration
of Independence, he drew upon the collective wisdom and legacy of Inherent Autonomy. Grievance against the crown was not new.
Protest toward government, in any form, remains a constant. What makes the Declaration of Independence so important can be
found in the assessment of Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
"As a practical matter, the Declaration of Independence publicly announced to
the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from
any allegiance to Great Britain. But its greater meaning--then as well as now--is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate
political authority and the proper ends of government, and its proclamation of a new ground of political rule in the sovereignty
of the people. "If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence," wrote the great historian
Samuel Eliot Morrison, "it would have been worthwhile."
Note the fundamental elements that are enumerated as essential, (emphasis
Dr. Spalding continues:
"The structure of the Declaration of Independence is that of a common law legal document.
The ringing phrases of the document's famous second paragraph are a powerful synthesis of American constitutional and
republican government theories. All men have a right to liberty only in so far as they are by nature equal, which is
to say none are naturally superior, and deserve to rule, or inferior, and deserve to be ruled. Because men are
endowed with these rights, the rights are unalienable, which means that they cannot be given up or taken away. And
because individuals equally possess these rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed.
The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights and, although prudence tells us that governments should
not be changed for trivial reasons, the people retain the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive
of these ends".
How can it be any more clear? The entire intent for the War of Independence
was to establish a society, based upon the consent of citizens, free from government tyranny. Distinct sovereign states, composed
of individuals endowed with their inherent autonomy, retains the reigns of authority. The Continental Congress approved the
consensual compact: "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States", evidently
expresses a union in purpose for waging war, with a goal of autonomous self governance, for each state.
The primacy - objective of the Declaration of Independence - was never intended
to evolve into a despotic central government. If you think that the Constitution codified a tyranny free government, you would
be mistaken. The operative assertion of purpose is found in the Declaration of Independence document. Your ultimate allegiance
should be to Inherent Autonomy, especially when the Central Government ignores and denies the very instrument that provided
the reasons for waging the Revolutionary War for our liberation.
SARTRE - November 18, 2004