There are truths. They do tend to be “self evident”.
The United States is very unique. We are founded on an idea. Thirteen colonies or states of the country of England, unanimously agreed to revolt. We declared our independence.
We stand for equality, rights, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
We encourage others to do the same.
We also fight for them and their rights to do the same.
Remember the story of Richard Stockton. He was born to a wealthy New Jersey family that helped found what we now know as Princeton University. Stockton had even been given the chance to travel to London to appear before George III to make a presentation to the king from the college’s trustees.
Stockton had struggled to find a way that the 13 colonies could be self-governing but still subject to the crown, the kind of compromise that would later come to Canada and other British possessions. He argued for such a deal and even counseled with leaders including Edmund Burke on crafting such a plan.
Back at home, Stockton was elected to the Second Continental Congress. By 1775, the burden of taxes and punitive laws imposed by the crown convinced him that George III had no intention of granting autonomy. When discussion turned to declaring independence, he was prepared to sign. With his pen strokes, he, a celebrated and elite British subject, became an outlaw and a rebel.
Before the year was out, Stockton would be captured by loyalists, have his estate looted and burned and be turned over to the British army in chains. His family fled and Stockton was thrown in a prison in New York where he was badly mistreated and left in failing health.
Stockton endured his captivity and was eventually released after George Washington protested the abuse. But Stockton’s health never recovered and he would die at home in 1781 without living to see the country he helped found victorious and independent.
So the next time somebody tells you that politicians today lack courage because they refuse to defy the will of their constituents to please lobbyists and pundits, remember Richard Stockton and what real political courage looked like. It wasn’t about K Street expense-account dinners and celebrity status. It was about sacrificing everything for the sake of an idea.
We are the United States of America
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
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.