I will occasionally bold words to draw attention to them, and any personal notes from me in the text will be italicized and blue.
Day 1: Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
1) Why did the original text headline have the word “united” with a lowercase “u”?
2) A committee of 5 men were appointed to create the draft of the Declaration and Thomas Jefferson was asked to take the first shot at it. He used the word inalienable to describe our rights in his draft, but in the final version, the committee changed it to unalienable. Why? What’s the difference?
1) Because at the time, the States were united in this course of action, but we were not yet the “United States of America” as a nation. It was an adjective, not a noun. The principle remains the same today. It was the states that united to create the Constitution and found this nation.
2) Inalienable rights are rights that nobody can take from you, but they retain an attribute of transferability. Unalienable rights likewise cannot be taken from you, but they are NOT transferable even by YOU for the simple reason that God gave you your rights, and you are not able to transfer them or take them from another. Under the Declaration, you may not even indenture yourself, let alone put another into slavery.
(Featured Image by W. Scott McGill @123rf.com)