Happy Birthday, America!


I thank my non-USA readers for indulging us today. It’s our Independence Day, our Fourth of July, our nation’s birthday (sort of; more on that next month).

Do check out the link I’ve added at the end, filled with good stuff. And save 15 minutes or so to watch the video.  Thanks.

Have you read what has come to be called the Declaration of Independence?


Action of Second Continental 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. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pre-tended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

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 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.


I hope you’ll read this aloud at some point today.

My thanks to Oak Hill Publishing, publishers of US Constitution pocket books and other facts for over twenty years. Their site, Constitution Facts dot com offers a wealth of information.

How about you? What jumped out at you as you read through this today? (Try not to mention the spelling; I’ve kept this copy true to the original). Who heard you read? How far did you get?  

With thanks to the former Huffington Post for this colorful image.


Also important to understand is Frederick Douglass’ famous “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro.” Don’t be put off by the length. The speech itself begins at 15:21 and ends at 32 minutes.

There is an interesting introduction of Frederick Douglass at 8:25 by Professor Robert Levine, a biographer of Mr. Douglass, which  I think will add much to your understanding of the speech itself. Following the rendition is a conversation you might also want to take in.

Until next week when, in honor of World Population Day, I’ll talk a bit about my contribution to the world’s population, both of whom are visiting me this week.

16 Responses

  1. susan scott
    | Reply

    It’s a pretty powerful statement Janet and an indictment on the history of the British for their wish for domination. Thomas Jefferson I presume, although I note this was the 2nd Congressional Congress.

    Each paragraph was powerful and is a healthy reminder of what the ordinary citizen is entitled to, by way of abolishing a current system that does does not serve them well. Although I’ve always wondered about the ‘pursuit of happiness’ as an aim –

    I look forward to listening to the video of Frederick Douglass. May your July 4th be a time of reflection and enjoyment of your upcoming contributions to World Population Day 🙂
    susan scott recently posted…Travel and TransitionsMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, Thomas Jefferson indeed, though it was “massaged a bit” by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. What I try to keep in mind is just how often our “enemies” soon enough become our “friends.” I think now of Germany, of course. England, long ago; even France and Holland, once upon a time.

      You’re right to pick up on that ‘pursuit of happiness’ in there. Many have come to the conclusion that money lies at the end of this pursuit; certainly in our capitalist society here, that seems to be the case. Others claim it can be whatever you determine happiness is for you. Vague intentionally. I like that about it.

      Welcome back. Eager to read all about your trip.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Happy Birthday, America!My Profile

  2. Clive
    | Reply

    That should be required reading for all. So much of it still has parallels with today, only this time the obstruction and maltreatment is coming from within, rather than from another country exercising powers it should never have had. This may not be the worst part of our country’s (UK) history, but it gives us many lessons in how (and how not) to govern. Happy Independence Day! I hope your country uses those powers more wisely in coming months than in the past 18!
    Clive recently posted…69 Months LaterMy Profile

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Good morning, Janet. Happy 4th! Obviously, I’ve read it many times–and written about it. 🙂
    There’s info about the writing of the document on the National Archives site, and also you can see some of the handwritten versions.
    Merril Smith recently posted…Telling the StoryMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Merril. I found there was just SOOOO much I could include. Decided to keep it simple. But I’ll be returning in August with an addendum.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Happy Birthday, America!My Profile

  4. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Something I just read fits here, a quote by Clarence Darrow: “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Memoir Moment with Mom in the Tobacco FieldMy Profile

  5. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
    Standing Ovation!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…The Case of the Missing DongleMy Profile

  6. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    Rereading this just now, I think we need a revolution! Happy 4th!!
    Joan Z. Rough recently posted…The Laws Of My NatureMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Those must have been exciting times, yes? Of course, had the States not won, each signer would have been hung. I often wonder what I would truly be willing to do if faced with such a situation.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Happy Birthday, America!My Profile

  7. Bette Stevens
    | Reply

    Wonderful read, share and reminder of the legacy we have been entrusted with, Janet. Happy Independence Day! <3 xo

  8. cookwithreena
    | Reply

    Very nice read. Happy Birthday USA!!!

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