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.
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:
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 of defiance.
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
- Leadership roles should not be hereditary
- Legislative and Executive Powers should be separate
- The principles of free elections
- Government cannot suspend laws without the consent of the
- 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
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:
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".
"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.
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."
the fundamental elements that are enumerated as essential, (emphasis added).
Dr. Spalding continues:
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