Has the American Revolution’s Rationale Lost Its Force?
By Robert Higgs • Sunday July 3, 2011 10:36 AM PDT • 13 Comments
The heart of the Declaration of Independence adopted by the thirteen united colonies of British North America on July 4, 1776, is as follows:
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 to 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 shown 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
On these grounds, the colonists took up arms against the long-established state under which they lived, and thousands of them perished in the struggle to secede from the British Empire.
Did the argument they advanced to justify their actions have any force? If it had force then, does it not have equal force today – nay, does it not have a thousand times greater force today than it had then?
To repeat, our ancestors declared that ”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.” Do the Americans of today deny that they also possess this right and this duty? And if they do possess this right and this duty, why do they continue to suffer – nay, to affirmatively suppport and celebrate – the rule of a state whose every action mocks their unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and crushes them ever more oppressively under the weight of its presumptuous and mendacious tyranny?