Is the Declaration of Independence Still a Radical Document?

Is the Declaration of Independence Still a Radical Document?

( – If the Declaration of Independence were written today, would it be a radical document?

In the age of pandemics, draconian quarantines, and overhanded government, it likely wouldn’t be well received by the states or federal government. In fact, they would probably call it a right-wing document that must be suppressed. On social media, it might be labeled as an extreme document.

In 1774, the British American colonies were also feeling the heavy weight of government pressing down on them as the British parliament imposed massive taxes on them for nearly a decade. From 1765 to 1773, the colonies were taxed on every piece of printed paper, paint, glass, lead, and finally — tea. In 1773, parliament passed the Tea Act not to raise money for itself, but to bailout the fledgling East India Company.

Does that sound familiar? It was tea the colonies neither needed nor wanted, especially considering they were being taxed without representation.

Boston Tea Party

Boston rebelled, and the Sons of Liberty carried out the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1733. A small number of men dressed as Native Americans snuck onboard a ship and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. As a result, the British shut down the port, and business came to a grinding halt, economically crippling the city.

On May 20, 1774, the British passed the Massachusetts Government Act to repeal the colony’s charter. Additionally, they also passed the Administration of Justice Act that stripped them of many of their rights as British citizens in order to suppress riots and restore order to the area. The other 12 colonies became concerned that if Boston’s form of government could be so easily altered, so could theirs.

During this time, the colonists began to use a new phrase that is a common term today: “unconstitutional.” It described the acts by parliament that overturned their charters, stripped them of their rights, and taxed them unfairly.

The Boston Tea Party Led to Declaration of Independence

By 1775, the Revolutionary War was underway. The events in Boston in 1774 set the stage for what would happen at Concord and Lexington just a few months later. In response, leaders from the colonies met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1775 to discuss how they would collectively approach King George III. By early 1776, it was clear that independence was the only way out.

On July 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. They dated it for July 4, 1776, to give it time to spread throughout the colonies.

What Is Liberty? Why Is It Important?

While everyone knows the phrase, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” few truly understand what “liberty” meant to them in 1776 and means to us today. In short, it means that the government ought to have constraints and stay out of people’s lives. That’s a far cry from what our government has become today.

In fact, now people turn to the government and beg it to solve their problems. In turn, the government has been all too willing. It has grown larger, more powerful, and has virtually no constraints.

Perhaps that’s why the word “liberty” is no longer used?

Today, the government claims authority not given to it to right any wrong, tax any event, regulate any behavior, and transfer wealth from one economic class to another. Instead of being a government that seeks the consent of the people, it demands the people acquiesce to it. Laws are no longer passed to preserve liberty. In fact, that would be a fallacy. Instead, laws are now created to enforce order.

Again, does that sound familiar?

The very thing the colonists fought against is the very thing today’s government has become.

Now more than ever, the Declaration of Independence is a radical document that transcends time. While not all of the document’s contents pertains to today, its intent does. This 4th of July weekend, take a few moments to read it for yourself. You may be shocked to find what you discover that it’s timeless and radical.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

The opinions above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher.

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