Monday, July 11, 2011

"Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor"

Jefferson, after the addition by other editors of the passage professing their appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world, incorporated Richard Henry Lee's resolution declaring independence. Lee's resolution referred to "these united colonies." Because this declaration asserts a change in the existing states of affairs, Jefferson introduces Lee's resolution as a declaration by representatives of "the united States of America."

“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.".

After an editorial addition by others expressing their "reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," Jefferson ends with this pledge:

"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.”

Although the Continental Congress passed Lee's resolution for independence on 2 July 1776, we celebrate the birthday of the nation on the day that the Congress approved Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. For the Declaration is more than a political document altering the relationship with Britain or a philosophical statement of the American theory of just governments. It has become of statement of what we seek to become as a people and the source of our national identity. For this reason, we celebrate Independence Day and uphold the "sacred honor" of the men who made it possible.

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