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Foundations Of Liberty E5

The United States Constitution serves as a nearly perfect blueprint for liberty and freedom. However, a blueprint can only be functional if it is properly understood and actually followed. With all that we see around us, time for us to get back to the foundations of liberty. Welcome back to foundations of liberty. I’m Darren Chappell, your host. This is being brought to you by veterans in Defense of Liberty here on the Two A network on SimulTV. We’re very thankful that you’ve joined us again as we continue to study the Constitution of the United States, how it was written, how it was formulated, and what it meant to the Founders as they put the pen to the parchment. If we don’t understand those words as they were originally intended, we run the risk of misunderstanding. And as we often see among those individuals who try to use the Constitution in such a way to serve their own political purposes, rather than trying to stay true to the foundation, the blueprint of the American Republic. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at perhaps the most important document that led up to the establishment of the Constitution, and that is the Declaration of Independence. It’s more than just when the Founders declared their independence from England and King George III on July the fourth, 176. It’s also a document that expresses the mind of the Founders and how it is that they were trying to convince not only King George, but especially the American people. And if we understand it in that context, we can appreciate the words that are written in that document all the more so today. So we’re going to come back after this break here in just a few moments. And when we do, we’ll get right into the Declaration of Independence. Welcome back. We’ve all heard the various stories concerning the Declaration of Independence. We all know that Thomas Jefferson was the primary writer of the Declaration and that he was chosen because he was especially eloquent. We all know that it was signed and approved on July 4. It was actually signed a couple of days earlier. John Adams thought that that would be the date in which the country would celebrate its independence. But July 4, Independence Day here in the United States is recognized as being that point at which we had removed ourselves under the authority of the Crown in England. It is all of that, but it is also an expression of ideas that oftentimes get overlooked. Let me begin with the very title of the document itself. It is the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. Now, if you ever look at an original copy of that writing, there’s something very interesting that most people just never recognize at all, and that is that the word united is not capitalized. The reason why it’s not capitalized is because the concept of the United States of America was not intended by the Founders to be the name of a single country. You see, they saw the states, the former colonies, they saw them as states. In an international law sense, states are countries unto themselves. Germany is a state. France is a state. Russia is a state. And the founders saw South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts as states, independent countries free from the rule of King George III. But these independent states gathered together on the northern continent of America so that these states were united not because they intended to be one country combined together, but rather 13 independent countries united in their struggle against King George. The concept of a single entity being called the United States of America was something that the founders didn’t consider. And in fact, if you look at some of the earliest documents of our country’s history and examine the way in which it was written, it was most of the time it was written that the United States are or the United States were. And the plural is important because they saw themselves as separate and independent from one another. They had their own money, they had their own policies, they had their own armies, they had their own identities of their societal considerations. They did not intend to be one monolithic country. Today, here in the United States, we all consider ourselves citizens of the United States of America. But at the origination of the document, you were a citizen of Massachusetts or of New York or of New Hampshire. That didn’t change until much later, after the Civil War, in fact. And we’ll get to that when we begin to study the 14th Amendment later on in our series of lessons. But this concept of the Declaration of Independence, we see it as the beginning of our country, and it is, but not the way that we consider it. And frankly, the way in which it was written tells us that the Founding Fathers never saw us sending up the way that we eventually did. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but when we talk about getting back to the basics, we need to understand where the basics actually lie and where it is that we need to ascribe ourselves when we’re trying to regain that concept of freedom. We need to recognize what they hoped for us so that we can achieve everything that they provided for us to be able to do. Now, it’s also important to understand that the Declaration sorry, that the Declaration of Independence was written yes, as a statement of independence to King George so that he would know that those colonies that he once had control of were no longer his and that they were, in fact, free and independent states, no longer under his rule. However, King George didn’t care about that piece of paper. King George didn’t care what the founding fathers thought. King George was the king, after all, and had a vast empire. Even at that stage, king George was also suffering suffering, probably medical doctors and historical scientists, references suspect from porphyria, which can cause a degree of madness. King George was not in his right mind in 1776 and frankly, had he not been in that state, he might have perhaps reasoned with the colonies more effectively and maybe we never would have separated ourselves from the Empire in the first place, but we did. King George didn’t care that they wrote the Declaration and he had no interest in coming to the table and trying to resolve the differences. And the Founding Fathers knew that they had tried multiple times through various emissaries being sent to the throne and suggesting, maybe we could do this, maybe we could do that. They pointed out the efforts that were written down in the Magna Carta and how that principle was being ignored by King George of no taxation without representation, no recognition of a self rule, popular sovereignty, essence in the colonies. They had tried multiple times and failed. King George just simply was not, for whatever reason, interested in having any kind of accommodation for the Founding Fathers whatsoever. So the writing of the Declaration was not to tell King George how terrible he had been. It was to convince the American people in the various states that now it was time to separate ourselves. In fact, that’s how the Declaration starts when, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to separate itself from the ones that they had this bond with. I mean, the course of human events had been the changes in the British throne had been the changes in the American colonies as they had matured and had established their own cultures and economies and the ability to defend themselves. There were so many changes that had occurred since the beginning, back in the early 16 hundreds, that now the colonies were able and ought to be able to stand on their own and to be free from what they considered a tyranny of King George III. The reason why it was necessary to convince the American people about this is because, contrary to the way we all see it, we tend to think of the Founding Fathers as being the leaders of this mass swelling of American pride and independent thought and that all the people were behind it. But that’s simply not the case. In fact, roughly one third of the people in the 13 independent states, one third of them considered themselves Tories. Tories being those individuals who were tied to the British Crown and didn’t believe that we should be dividing and in fact considered it treason to do so. One third, of course, were patriots. And the patriots believed that the countries of the 13 independent states had the right to separate themselves from the British Crown. But one third of the American population was neither Tory nor patriot and they simply didn’t want to rock the boat. They were concerned about what was going to happen to their properties, to their families. They were concerned about the effects of warfare. They were concerned about the effects on their economy and their ability to be able to feed themselves. But they also didn’t like what King George was doing, and they didn’t appreciate the British army coming in and taking that same property, those same liberties, and establishing an economy that they simply couldn’t work within. So they were on neither side. They were not pressured one way or the other by their own conscience, and they just simply needed to be convinced. And that’s what the Declaration of Independence was originally written to do. It is a document that not only tells King George the long train of abuses that are listed out within it, but it tells the American people about that long train of abuses. Here’s why we have to separate. Here’s why we can no longer count ourselves as British citizens. It’s because the King has done all of these. And when, in the course of human events, we find ourselves in this set of circumstances, it is time to revolt. That’s the message of the Declaration of Independence as a rule, and it was for the American people. We’re going to take a break here real quick. We’re going to come right back after these messages and talk a little bit more about some of the specific wording of the Declaration of Independence. Welcome back. Perhaps the most important line in the entirety of the Declaration of Independence is what we’re going to focus on now, and that is when Jefferson writes, we hold these truths to be self evident, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, in order to properly understand that, you have to realize that the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly subscribers to the idea of natural law, and that is that God has created man in his own image. And in so doing, God has given a set of natural laws that are universally applied to all men, everywhere in the world, throughout all of time. Jefferson says that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This premise of deity being established in this Declaration of Independence is extraordinarily important because it’s not based on laws that the government gives us rights. It’s not based on the idea that government sets our society in motion. Jefferson and the other founders believe that God did that. God gave us certain rights, and it’s the government’s job to protect those rights against those who would take it from us. It’s extraordinarily important when we consider what the Constitution later says in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere, this idea of natural law and that we are given by our Creator. These rights set the stage for what Jefferson talks about as rights being unalienable. They cannot be taken from us. We have these simply by being human. We have these and so it extends beyond the United States. It extends beyond the 18th century. It’s all men and women, children, everywhere in the world, regardless of time, regardless of region, regardless of culture, language, religion, regardless of country, all men everywhere are given these unalienable rights by the creator himself. It’s extraordinarily important. Now, he says that the first of these which are included, he’s not limiting it to these three, but he says that the first of these, of course, is life. Now, without the right to life under natural law, anybody could come and take your life at will. And in previous centuries, we saw that that was exactly what was done. If somebody was bigger and stronger and meaner than his neighbor, he could just kill him. And given the fact that there were no laws that would stop an individual from doing that, in the earliest of societies, that’s where governments and societies, that’s where they originated, was to protect the rights of the individuals who live together. A person can’t just take another individual’s life so strongly. Is this an unalienable right in the eyes of the founders that when we look to the constitution and we see in the fifth amendment, the 14th amendment, that we are afforded the right of due process of law, and that we cannot have our lives taken from us unless we’ve been through that due process. And even the 8th amendment, which talks about cruel and unusual punishments being prohibited, you can’t have as a death sentence a punishment established for a petty crime, such as petty theft of some nature. So this premise of life being an unalienable right, and of course, we see it here in the United States. We see this being the discussion concerning the issue of abortion. I’m not trying to get political about this, but the reality of it is that if the unborn is considered a person, then that unborn individual has the right to life under the United States constitution via the 14th amendment. If that unborn is not a person, if it is a nonviable tissue mass that has no soul and has no individual identity, well, then the government has no right to say anything about what a woman, or a man for that matter, can do with his or her body. It would be like having a mole removed. It’s up to the individual. So the idea that government should be involved and say, well, we’re not going to protect the unborn, but we are going to restrict what you can do here, that’s hypocritical and inconsistent. What has to happen is, is the unborn individual a person? If so, it has constitutional rights. If not, well, then the government should stay out of it. And the entire debate comes down to that, because life is an alienable right. It’s given to us by God, codified in the declaration of independence, and protected in the United States constitution. Furthermore, he talks about liberty. Now, this is one of those concepts that people misunderstand because we get rights and liberties and freedoms confused in the way in which we use those words interchangeably. Rights are those areas of life that government says. We are going to use the power of government to make sure that you don’t do without this. So you have the right to an attorney. We all understand this a right to an attorney. And if an individual goes to a court of law as a defendant in the United States of America and that individual cannot afford an attorney, then the government will provide an attorney for that person. That’s a right. We won’t let you do without that. Again, in our society, you’ll hear a lot of people talking about a right to be married. There is no such right in the United States Constitution, nor was there ever intended to be one by the Founding Fathers. Think about it for just a second. If you, for whatever reason, will be generous and just say if you are not marriage material, okay? You’re not marriage material and so you’re not married. The government will not issue you a spouse. It’s not a right. We’re not going to use the power of government to assure that you don’t do without being married. That’s the difference. Now, freedoms, on the other hand, are those areas of life wherein government says that you’re free to do whatever you want within these certain restrictions. Now, marriage falls under a concept of freedom. You are free to be married or not and you are free to choose whoever it is that you would like to marry. But they can’t be below a certain age. You can’t marry multiple people. Polygamy, polyandry, bigamy none of those are allowed in the United States of America. And so with these certain restrictions you are free to do as you choose. So marriage is not a right, but it is a freedom that we enjoy. Liberty, on the other hand, is neither of those. Liberty are those areas of life wherein government has no say whatsoever. Government doesn’t have a say. Government doesn’t have anything to restrict us. It’s outside of the scope of governmental intervention and it’s outside of the scope of governmental power to control anything. So when Jefferson quotes Locked and says that we have these unalienable rights and among these are life and liberty, he’s talking about the control and the limitation of government. It is our God given right to be at liberty and not to have to suffer through governmental intrusion in our lives something which we find ourselves altogether too familiar with here in the United States. And then he talks about the pursuit of happiness. Now, Locke wrote it as life, liberty and property. And it’s much the same thing because the idea is that each individual person being at liberty ought to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. So if you work hard and you’re able to attain property, it’s yours. And you should be able to enjoy it, and you should be able to aspire to great heights or to not work as hard and focus on your children, or to not work as hard and go fishing. Each individual person is at liberty to determine what it is that they’re going to do with their lives and however they live. That pursuit of happiness, that acquisition of property, or the lack thereof based on their decisions, that is an unalienable right. And so this premise of, if you work hard, we’re going to use the power of government to take what you’ve been able to attain, and we’re going to give it to somebody who is not willing to work completely foreign to the Founding Fathers and their understanding of natural law and unalienable rights. We’re going to have to break again for these messages, and when we’re going to come back, we’ll kind of take an overview of the whole thing and wrap this episode up. We’ll be right back after these messages. Welcome back. So we take a look at the Declaration of Independence, and I recognize it as just a thumbnail sketch, a very, very brief overview. We simply don’t have time in one episode to do more with it. I’m hopeful that when we’re done with our series on the Constitution, I can come back and we’ll take a look at the Declaration a little bit more in depth and in detail. But I think it’s important for us to remember when we consider this wonderful document, that we consider that it was written in a context. It was written in the context of culture and of time and of language and of history that we have to understand in order to appreciate what it was actually saying. And in so doing, we need to recognize the purpose of the document. Yes, it was to inform King George that we were removing ourselves from his authority and we were no longer considering ourselves British citizens, but more importantly, it was to convince the Americans in these colonies now states that here’s why. This is why it’s imperative for us to revolt and separate ourselves from this tyranny that we’ve all been suffering under. Understanding that context allows us to recognize what the Declaration is still saying to us today. We have the right to have a government that serves our needs and protects our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We as Americans, and indeed all people all over the world, have the right to demand that government serve its role and nothing more, serve its role in protection of our rights, but stay clear of infringing upon our liberties. Every single time government expands, every single time government steps out of its natural role as protective servant of the people, every time liberty dies just a little bit. It is imperative that we understand and appreciate that fact. Not only so that we can appreciate the document for what it is and the tremendous impact that it had on the Constitution, but so that we can continue to hear the call to stand up for those inalienable rights that we were endowed with by our Creator and live just as free and full of liberty as we possibly can. This is Darren Chappell speaking on behalf of Veterans and Defense of Liberty here on Foundations of Liberty, brought to you exclusively on the two A network on Simultane. Thanking you for your time and we’ll see you on our next lesson. Hello, I’m Darren Chappell. I’m the host of Foundations of Liberty and the executive vice president of Veterans and Defense of Liberty. Today I’m asking you to support our veterans to study our Constitution so that we can protect our rights, our freedoms and our liberties for future generations of Americans that come behind us. It is truly, as George Washington once said, our cause is noble. It is the cause of mankind.
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