Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”     Upton Sinclair

July 4, 2007

When In The Course Of Human Events

by Doug Mataconis


Two Hundred Thirty One Years Ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following:

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.

And so the men of 1776 rebelled against King George III, citing as examples numerous examples of his usurpation of the rights of man. And, quite honestly, given the historical record and the example of dictators far worse than George III that history has produced, one might sometimes wonder if the colonials were overreacting. After all, it’s not as if King George had authorized usurped legal authority to conduct surveillance on his own citizens, or conducted a war based on false assumptions, pardoned a close aide, taken property from one citizen and given it to another, or restricted people’s ability to earn a living in their chosen profession. Heck, when you look at the taxes that led the colonialists to rebel and compare them to what gets taken out of your paycheck every week, its hard to understand what they were so upset about.

Seriously, the lesson of 1776 isn’t so much that George III was a good guy, but that we’ve forgotten the warning of Thomas Jefferson that

[T]he price of liberty is eternal vigilence.

We’ve let freedom be eroded, little by little, to the point where the idea of the state being allowed to put surveillance cameras on street corners to “watch” us seems natural. We’ve let privacy become a charade to the point where the Social Security Number has in fact become the National ID that it’s advocates promised it never would become. We’ve let government involvement in the economy expand to the point where a trillion dollars in tax collections seems like a trivial amount.

We’ve become the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water.

The question, then, is when does it become enough ? When will the American people finally wake up and realize that their liberties are being eroded on a daily basis ? And, where are the heirs of Jefferson ?

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for reminding me to go back and read this important document.

    The example of how to cook a frog is right on the money as is “taken property from one citizen and given it to another, or restricted people’s ability to earn a living in their chosen profession.”

    You hit my hot buttons with these two alone and I keep wondering, how much is enough, when will we throw the whole lot of them out of “Wasteington” and start over.

    Comment by T F Stern — July 4, 2007 @ 8:20 am
  2. Erosion is a bang-on description.

    I suggest we throw out every person in govt now and ‘reboot’. Govt wants to ‘protect’ us even while limiting our ability to do it ourselves. Curriculum teaches students about free speech and the court dictates you can’t be free about speech even in the realm that teaches it. Can our govt get any more hypocritical? Out these power hungry bastards or threaten revolt. We’re long overdue.

    Comment by Symgharyl — July 4, 2007 @ 11:02 am

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