Guest Author, Thomas Jefferson et. al.
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.
- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
- He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
- He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
- He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
- For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
- For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
- For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
- For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
- For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
- He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
- He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
- He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
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.
A lot of us like to highlight the following:
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.Declaration of Independence
I even have a hat, which has on it the Betsy Ross flag, and those words are incused onto the stripes. Very politically incorrect! And not coincidentally, very historically correct.
But as much as I like those words, to me, that’s not the most important part of the Declaration.
It’s not just that we have rights. That alone doesn’t justify replacing one government with another. And explaining why our Founders were doing that was the point of the document.
For that you need to understand what a government is for. And that is explained in the very next “self evident” truth. (Yes, the list of “self evident” truths continues after the commonly quoted part, there are more of them.)
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,Declaration of Independence
If this is the proper purpose of a government, and indeed it is, then it follows that a government that no longer does so–say, one that steps on people’s necks for the benefit of others–has failed in its only legitimate purpose and should be replaced. And indeed, that’s the very next, and last, “self evident” truth.
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 HappinessDeclaration of Independence.
The document then goes on to make it clear that this should be done with great caution, and when all other options are exhausted. Then it goes on to argue that, indeed, all other options had been exhausted, so it was now time to go that route. (It’s all very neatly laid out in a logical progression, which is why it isn’t a “ramble” in the way that some of my less-carefully-crafted posts are.)
The Declaration does not mention violent overthrow, but it was clear just from looking around, during those early summer days of 1776, that the rampant, over-reaching government they were complaining about was prepared to fight to maintain its authority and its alleged “right” to be what it was. And if King George was willing to do that, then he was certainly not going to be happy to be told, “not only should you not do those things, you shouldn’t do anything here at all.”
The replacement government would, indeed, contain many mechanisms to contain it, and mechanisms to peacefully reform it, because the Founders really didn’t like having to go to war to protect their rights, even if they recognized the necessity. They did what they could to avoid it being necessary ever again.
(A monarchy claiming divine sanction cannot be reformed from within; it must either come to the realization it has no divine sanction, or undergo some other change of conscience, or be forced to reform from the outside, or be destroyed. That second-to-last one is problematic, since the monarchy is left in a position to try to regain what it had lost, and it will want to do so.)
But let’s get back to the “self evident” truths (see, this is a ramble, but I’ll get there eventually). They are, in summation, an exposition of the enlightenment-era theory of rights and government. God made us in such a way that rights are a part of our nature; governments should protect those rights, not interfere with them. If a government does interfere with the rights, it’s violating the rights it is supposed to be protecting, therefore it’s not a proper government and its victims have the right to alter or abolish it.
I can certainly get along with those who argue this way (assuming that they have a proper notion of “rights,” a rather involved subject which the Declaration doesn’t take up, no doubt due to space limitations).
But there are a couple of things that stand out to me.
I’ve been putting “self evident” in scare quotes. That’s because it’s quite clear, based on prior history, that these truths are anything but self-evident. Many, maybe even most, people don’t believe them. And the Founders were certainly aware of that, they didn’t say, “These truths are self-evident,” but rather that “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” They were self-evident to them. But not to many others.
Indeed, if the truths were self-evident, we’d never have to rise up against government, because the government would restrain itself as a matter of due course. The events of July 4, 1776 (and the war that was ongoing on that date) would have been unnecessary and this would just be another early summer day here in North America, a proud Commonwealth country.
Of course there’s another issue, too. How does one know God wanted people to have these rights? That’s the starting assumption with the Founders’ theory of rights. The Christians and Deists both believed God wants us to have rights, and that was why we have them to begin with. But it is a pretty specific statement, involving two highly abstract concepts (rights and God), and therefore it’s one which ought not to be taken as axiomatic.
So, how do you know God wants you to have these rights? Have you examined this? Now, I’m the village atheist here, so my response to the question is that it’s a non-sequitur, but most of you reading this aren’t atheists, so I actually ask in all earnest whether you have examined this issue. Because I really hope you have an answer for it that satisfies you even if it cannot satisfy me.
It’s an important point for you to be clear on, because from what I have seen, many of those who believe there is a God do not have an answer for it and thus do not believe rights come from God. In other words, they come to the same end conclusion an atheist does (“rights do not come from God”), even if for a very different reason.
So wouldn’t it be useful to have some argument for rights that gets to the correct conclusion in some totally different way? To use on both of these groups of people? Even if there weren’t a single atheist on Earth, and even if everyone on earth were Christian, it’d be a good thing to be able to prove inalienable rights exist, without referencing God.
Why? Because so much of Leftism is based on the perspective that since rights don’t come from God, they don’t actually exist. Or at the very least, they’re just a societal convention or “construct” that we simply implement through our government. It serves the Left, therefore, to put forth the notion that if rights don’t come from God, then they don’t really exist in any meaningful sense since a right granted by government can clearly be alienated at the government’s whim. So it’s not really a right.
It’s actually a false choice. Rights can exist, even if they do not come from God. But the Left just loves it when people fail to see that it’s a false choice; it delivers many Christians and almost every atheist into their camp. And anyone on our side who insists that those are the only two alternatives is therefore actually helping the Left. Because people are much more likely to align their politics with their religious convictions, than to change their religious convictions to match their politics. So if you browbeat someone into accepting that there are only two choices: 1) adopt my religion or a similar one or 2) stop believing there is such a thing as rights…they’ll usually pick number 2. Now I know that you’d much rather they pick door number 1, but realistically, by setting their desire for rights to exist against their deepest convictions, you’re much more likely to goad them into picking door number 2.
So I hope I’ve convinced you of the political utility of a non-religiously-based argument for the existence of rights, even if you yourself have no need of it.
And if you do a bit of logical deduction, you’ll realize that I believe there is one. Because A) I can’t possibly believe the religious argument and B) I’m here even so, not going off helping to demolish statues.
So what is this non-religious argument? Well…it’s long. I’m actually going to point you to an article by Craig Biddle of the Objective Standard. In that article, he summarizes Ayn Rand’s theory of rights. But he doesn’t just do that, he has to discuss her theory of morality before he can cover rights, because, it turns out, rights aren’t a political concept, but a moral/ethical one! (Rand uses those two words interchangeably, which drives the Left nuts.) That’s why a theory of politics can’t deny them, because they exist before you even start talking about politics.
“Wait,” you say, “you can’t have morals without God!” Well, wrong, but thank you for helping the Left by trying to herd all non-believers their way.
Understanding what rights are needed for, gives you a proper definition of rights (rather than a short list of examples), and you then have to tools to assess whether some alleged right really is one.
Like I said, it gets long. But here it is. Go down about a third of the way to the section titled “Ayn Rand’s Observation-Based Morality.” https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2011/08/ayn-rand-theory-rights/
Not everyone will agree with this (Ayn Rand’s morality is hard for some to stomach, largely because she deliberately uses words with some bad connotations to describe it), nor will everyone or agree it’s the best possible defense of “rights” but, the point is, it can be done. You do not have to buy into the Left’s assertion that anyone (believer or non-believer) who does not believe God grants rights has no logical alternative but to become a Leftist, an assertion that serves the Left, not us.
A Reminder Of Today’s Issues.
Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American People...Our campaign represents a true existential threat, like they’ve never seen before.Then-Candidate Donald J. Trump
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Political correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. The gun is always loaded.
4a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
5. Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
6. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
7. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
Coin of The Day
I could point you to the Bicentennial quarter, half dollar and dollar for this. And you can fairly readily obtain proofs of these coins for a fairly low price. (They don’t turn up in circulation. Even the quarter is under-represented in circulation once one corrects for its age and its mintage; people apparently keep them when they get them.)
Naah, time for something completely different.
Once the Mint had hired bonded officers, it was able to start producing silver and gold coinage, starting in 1794. A small number of these coins 1758 of them to be exact, called the “Flowing Hair Dollar” was produced in 1794, a much larger number, 160,295 in 1795. (In 1796 the portrait of Liberty was changed greatly, and the eagle was changed more subtly.) Today, best estimates are that about 4,000 to 7,500 of them still exist, with maybe 150-250 in uncirculated condition. Even the rattiest uncirculated example is going to cost around $60,000; in Extra Fine condition, it drops to a mere $12,000. But those are prices for a 1795, not a 1794. For a 1794, expect to pay an even million dollars for a ratty uncirculated coin, and $300,000 for an extra fine.
The most ever paid for a rare coin was $10,000,000, and it was for a 1794 dollar (named the “Contursi Specimen” after one of its former owners) that, under detailed examination has to be one of the first made, probably the first one made of those that still survive. (We know this because the dies that stamp out the coins themselves degrade with use; one can tell the difference between coins struck from fresh dies versus ones from dies that were getting tired, and if you’re really good at that sort of thing, you can tell new from almost, almost new, and so on.)
The coin has a silver plug (you can see part of its outline below the eagle’s beak), possibly to bring the silver content up to standard, but it also has “adjustment marks” (file marks across the surface, you can see them at 2 and 8-10 o’clock on the obverse, and 5-8 o’clock on the reverse) used to reduce the weight of the coin. Many claim that that coin was the very first US dollar made, and their argument is strong but (to me) not really conclusive. In any case a company named Legend Numismatics won the thing in an auction for over $7 million and then asked to have their bid increased to ten million. Just for bragging rights! (Legend, by the way, is a table worth stopping by at coin shows–they have absolutely killer, high grade stuff. [Just try not to drool.] I really want to go through their dumpster someday; their rejects would look fantastic in my collection. Come to think of it, I did get a coin in one of their auctions, once; it was definitely not one of their finer offerings.)
Standard disclaimer: Neither this, nor any other coin I show here, is one I own. In some cases I own a similar coin, but by no means all or even most of them. I certainly couldn’t afford to even think about paying ten million dollars for any coin.
Just one more thing, my standard Public Service Announcement. We don’t want to forget this!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!