Some history of the Declaration of Independence |

Some history of the Declaration of Independence

Ruth and Marty Hertzberg
Copper Mountain

For the record, it is not the Constitution but the Declaration of Independence that contains the hallowed phrases: “… 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.”

The term “entitlement” is a recent invention of the neo-con lexicology with a derogatory connotation. For Jefferson, they were “unalienable rights” endowed by the “Creator” and thus transcended human structures of government. All of Ruth Hertzberg’s students from 1969-2008 know that the Declaration of Independence was written in July 1776 during the early stages of the American Revolution. The signers and the authors could have been hung for their action if the British had won.

The Constitution, on the other hand, was written in the summer of 1787. It contains the very important structures of government: the Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. Its preamble, which was written after the seven articles were written, is a list of the supposed purposes, one of which is “to provide for the common welfare”.

We have no king and the Constitution prohibits the granting of titles of nobility. In neither document is their any reference to lower classes, middle classes, or upper classes. Except for the blights of slavery and sexism, all citizens were to be treated equally in the goal of providing for the common welfare. The founding fathers also had enough good sense to maintain the Constitution as a secular document without the presumption that their human creation required the sanctification of the Creator.

They had had enough of “the Divine Right of Kings,” and the class system created by those kings.

In order to gain the ratification of nine states, it was promised that a “Bill of Rights” would be added. The first 10 amendments were added in 1790 and are, along with all subsequent amendments, an integral part of the Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence was mostly a copy of the thoughts of John Locke in which he said all men are equal and have the natural rights to life, liberty, and property Jefferson changed property to “pursuit of happiness”. What a profound change.

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