As we once again have gone past Independence Day, a time in America for celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, this can be a time to reflect on the meaning of July 4th for Americans. For many of us, it has been a time for fireworks, camping, gatherings, picnics, and vacations. It is celebrated however because of a document signed by representatives from the thirteen colonies to break with Great Britain and become a sovereign nation.
It is a more lengthy document than most of us remember. If you haven't read its entirety in a while, it's here: [The Declaration of Independence]. What is familiar and often quoted is--
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 began as a divided nation. Not everyone wanted to break with Great Britain. It took convincing to bring all thirteen colonies in for what would be a bloody war. We proved our division again when in 1861, we began another bloody war, called The Civil War in the North and today still, in many places in the South, the war of Northern Aggression.
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.
Both times the wars ended and someone won, but we are still a divided nation on so many issues as to what a nation has the right to decide, about who are the good and bad guys, about which direction we should go with two major parties espousing different beliefs. Many of our citizens would like a third party but likely don't agree on what it should do either. There is still talk of states separating from the Union based on the promises in the Declaration, which proved a little less amiable to leaving than it might've implied (typical of many legal contracts).