Tag Archives: Independence
he [King George III of England] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people [Africans] who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium [disgrace] of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted [sacrificed for financial gain] his negative [veto] for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable [disgraceful] commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die [“lacking officialness”?], he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Thomas Jefferson’s Draft of the Declaration of Independence,
Approved by the Committee of Five, July 2, 1776
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders stand by unpopular but necessary positions.
Much of the Declaration of Independence is a list of the many offenses suffered at the hands of the King of England. This was one of them, a no-holds-barred condemnation of the King’s protection, promotion, and expansion of the slave trade between Africa and his colonies.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution in Congress calling for America’s independence. Four days later, Congress appointed a “Committee of Five” to draft the reasons why this radical action might be taken. Thomas Jefferson was one of the five and delegated by the other four to draft the original document. The Committee made a few changes in Jefferson’s work but left the paragraph above intact. Congress took up debate on the draft after Lee’s resolution for independence was approved on July 2.
This language is not in the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Congress on July 4, 1776. Why not? Georgia and South Carolina would not vote for independence if that language remained. It was a political decision that favored a unanimous vote without this language, over a split vote with two colonies against independence if the language remained. Northern colonies which benefited from the slave trade were also complicit in the decision to drop the condemning words.
Jefferson was greatly distressed by this change. Benjamin Franklin, the senior and most respected member of the Committee of Five, counseled him to hold his tongue. Jefferson did so.
This document shows the differences between the Declaration approved by the Committee of Five and the one adopted by the Congress. Note this entire paragraph was deleted.
Thomas Jefferson, a principled man despite his many uninformed detractors,
stands ready to inspire your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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 [Webster’s7th New Collegiate, “moral integrity : righteousness”] 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.
The Declaration of Independence
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
You know the beginning. This is the end.
The Declaration of Independence, adopted 238 years ago today, begins with far more famous words, “When in the course of human events …” It concludes with these words.
1. Representing the citizens and affirming the rightness of our actions, because of the reasons presented above, we declare ourselves completely independent from England.
2. We have to same authority to act as other free and independent states do.
3. We depend on God for protection.
4. We pledge everything we have to this cause.
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
(For the full text of Adams’ letter, see http://bit.ly/iHfcB8)
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
238 years ago today, on July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence from England. When John Adams reported the previous day’s activities to his wife Abigail, he thought July 2 would be America’s day of celebration. Adams penned a ringing affirmation about the significance of Congress’ action and how it should be celebrated throughout the land forever, personally and publicly, with both reverence and exuberance.
Two days later, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which set forth the reasons for that action. The original draft of the Declaration was written by Jefferson. It was amended by the drafting committee and again by the Congress before it was adopted on July 4. The final version was still essentially Jefferson’s creation.
It was Jefferson’s stirring and memorable prose, adopted on the 4th of July, which sealed that date instead of the 2nd as the one to be celebrated.