This unusually lengthy gracEmail is political rather than spiritual (although it contains some spiritual allusions). This Saturday is Independence Day here in the USA, marking the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Because of the Declaration’s significance, and because of its elevated formal language, I thought it might be interesting to restate it in simple modern English.
Although the signers themselves did not live up to their fundamental premise of human equality, or even of universal liberty, they set in motion an ideal which has borne much fruit during the 233 years since, a vision that continues to inspire not only our nation but also much of the world.
The Declaration of Independence Simplified
We are about to do something drastic and rare in human history. This document sets forth our justification to the world.
The Laws of Nature created by Nature’s God give any people the right to undo political ties binding them to another nation, and to take their own separate place among earthly powers as full equals. This is the case because the Creator made every person equal, and gave certain permanent rights to them all. These include the rights to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness. All this is so obviously true that it needs no proof.
The reason for government is to make these rights secure. The only rightful power a government has is power that the people give it. Because government exists to preserve the peoples’ rights, if a government begins to destroy those rights the people may change that government, or they may do away with it altogether and form a new government designed to make them safe and happy.
People generally realize that they ought not to change old governments without good reason. In fact, most people put up with bad governments longer than they should. But when a government finally starts turning its people into slaves, the people must throw out that government and form a new one to do what governments are intended to do.
We have now reached that point with the King of England, who insists on turning us into his slaves. As evidence supporting this charge, the world can consider the following facts. [The Declaration then details 27 specific things that the British King is doing or is refusing to do which demonstrate his true intent.]
With all this in mind, we ask the world’s Supreme Judge to weigh our motives. And now, by the authority of the colonists whom we have been chosen to represent, we officially declare ourselves separate from all connections with the British government and free from the authority of the British King. Instead, from this moment, we declare that these united Colonies are free and independent States, with all powers proper to such States.
We firmly rely on Divine Providence to protect us in making this Declaration. Together as one man, in its support we stake everything we own, our treasured reputations, and our very lives.