Lessons from the Declaration of Independence

WE, THEREFORE, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.

It has been pointed out to me that this paragraph above, the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, might be the most important words that Thomas Jefferson wrote.

Why, you might ask? In this paragraph, Jefferson lays out his idea of what the Founders were seeking in an independent nation or, actually, an independent nation formed into a voluntary confederation by Independent States.

Jefferson refers to (each of) the individual colonies as Free and Independent States, not one (singular) State but Independent (plural) States. He further intones that each of these Independent States were meant to retain full, individual, Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which “Independent States” may of right do.

The Founders were not seeking to water down the autonomy of the individual colonies and bring each under the umbrella of a larger power.  A comparison might be the individual nations of Europe. The Founders, in the establishment of the new nation, to be known as the United State of America, were not mimicking the models of old. They were pursuing a brand new idea of a confederation of individually Free and Independent States. In fact, the Founders did not establish this new nation on the Constitution and under federalism, they established it on the Articles of Confederation as a voluntary confederation of Independent States.

When representatives of the Independent States gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, with the charge to amend the Articles of Confederation to make them more workable, certain individuals, federalists at heart, pushed to scrap the Articles and produced a brand-new Constitution, leaning away from confederation and towards federalism.

One wonders, at this point, if Jefferson were around today, would he recognize the bastardized federal government, that we abide today, contrasted to the idea of the Free and Individual States in a voluntary union that he visualized for the fledgling nation in 1776?

Published by Paul J DiBartolo

I'm the Most Rational Man in the World.

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