“When in the course of human events…” With these immortal words begins one of the most important documents in human history. The hot summer day that these words were read before the assembly in Philadelphia was the moment of truth. The United States decided to no longer be a colony of England, but free independent states.
For the colonists, this was a matter of both security and freedom. To read the long list of the grievances, one sees that the colonists felt threatened by the lack of order at home, the threat of invasion, and the tyranny practiced by the British military officials. The Founders felt it was a right “to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” They believed that what they were doing was not for any light or transient cause, but for their very survival and freedom as a people. These men have repeatedly sought the aid of the British citizenry to take a more active stance against their government who oppressed and left the colonies open to lawlessness and invasion. The citizens of London chose to ignore the calls and pleading of their fellow Englishmen in the colonies.
What the Founders did in that room was an act of desperation for their rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. We must not forget that the 56 men who signed their names to that document were signing their death warrant. Some never made it past the revolution to see the fruits of their struggles. It is easy to talk about rights, but it’s never easy to talk about the the pledge that comes with those rights. Those men knew the cost and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to attain the freedom and dignity of self governance. .
Furthermore, these men did not appeal to a common humanity or any other such transient thing. They appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world” for the morality of their cause. This same God who granted all men their rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. By declaring such a belief, the Americans held that a people’s right to Freedom and Security did not end with her boundaries or in the land ruled by the English. It was a right for all peoples to live in free and independent countries where they will feel safe and free without the interference of invasion from abroad or tyranny and anarchy at home.
No country is perfect. When the founders wrote these amazing words, it was during a time of slavery and oppression against the black Americans. It was a time when her people cared little for the humanity of the natives of the land. It would become a country that would have to constantly look into itself and see it’s own hypocrisy and sin. However, beneath the sin and hypocrisy of this great nation dwells a virtue and truth so great and magnificent and beautiful that all who gaze upon her can only stand in awe and wonder at what a great course she has chosen to undertake. Let us not stray from that course. Let us press on and “with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence… mutually pledge to each other our LIve, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” to this great and noble endeavor of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.