The last eight words in our Declaration of Independence, a document that forever changed the world in which we live, were bold and courageous; "Our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Towards the beginning of the Declaration the purpose of their quest to establish an independent nation was firmly stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The Declaration went on to describe in detail the reasons for the 13 Colonies pursuit for separation from England and the tyrannical rule of King George III.
Each and every delegate to the Convention knew well the risks they were taking when they signed, going up against a much more established and powerful country.
That fact was certainly encapsulated in the full, final sentence: "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."
There were 56 Signers to the Declaration of Independence. Of the 56, nine did indeed pay the ultimate price, their lives, for the cause. Another 17 lost everything they owned, along with all of their money.
However, not one of them ever recanted on their pledge.
Perhaps Patrick Henry said it best, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
The foresight off our Founders was incredible.
They fought for independence from tyrannical rule and set the stage for a dynamic and unified nation.
They had established a Constitutional, or a Representative, Republic, as opposed to a democracy, which caters to the whims of the majority. And, in doing so, they tried to warn us of tyrants and despots over and over again.
Thomas Jefferson, who was the principal author of our Declaration of Independence and later became our third president, wrote "The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us."
Sons of Liberty Founder and a leader of the Boston Tea Party, Samuel Adams, proclaimed, "A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy."
As well, statesman, diplomat, inventor, and writer Benjamin Franklin aptly noted, way back when, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
General and President George Washington summed up one of our most valuable unalienable rights when he said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
There are many more warnings to We the People, seemingly foreseeing some of the very actions various elected politicians have dictated and enforced during the past year and a half. And, truthfully, predicting what could happen if We the People did not keep constant vigilance upon our elected representatives and hold them accountable.
Over several decades we have gradually allowed too much power to be consolidated into the hands of too few people in Washington DC and it has cost us dearly.
The Father of our U.S. Constitution and fourth president, James Madison summed it up thusly, “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
Jefferson knew. He cautioned us. “When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the state, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution.”
This Independence Day let us remember and thank those brave souls who risked it all to establish the one truly free nation on planet Earth.
During his first inaugural speech as governor of California, President Ronald Reagan made a salient point, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
John F. Kennedy, our 35th president who, during his too short tenure in office, guided us through some threatening and dangerous times, said, point-blankly, “Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.”
Take a moment and re-read JFKs quote. That is powerful. That is reminiscent of what the Signers pledged in our Declaration of Independence.
Many Founders agreed on one simple fact, arming oneself in the knowledge of freedom is a big step in defeating tyranny. Second president John Adams said it very succinctly, “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.” He further added, “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”
If it has been a while, re-read , minimally, the opening two paragraphs of our Declaration of Independence, as well as the entirety of our U.S. Constitution.
Let us vow to one another that we will not allow our precious Freedom to be taken away, for the Rights and Liberties of every American are at stake, and our remaining a Free country is definitely needed on this, the third rock from the Sun.
Yours in Liberty.
Scott D. Welch, Patriot
Direct descendant of 8 Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War
Cousin of Patrick Henry