I watched “1776" today -- and saw the birth-pangs of the USA splendidly presented in music, dance, and clever dialogue. I never tire of the romance, the politics and passion that attended our nation’s start. Even as the musical celebrated what is best in our creation, it underscored the costly compromise slavery and high cost that many paid: "Molasses to Rum" to slaves, and "Momma, Look Sharp."
Two hundred thirty four years ago, in Philadelphia fifty-six men risked their lives and fortunes to sign a document that outlines a complaint against arrogant and willful governance , even as soldiers under the command of General George Washington had engaged the Redcoats in fierce battles.
What did that document spell out? It spelled out the rights of the people, those governed, to change a government that oppresses them. “. . . 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. . .” It has been described as a statement of principles through which the US Constitution should be interpreted.
The men who signed the declaration, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and amended, believed independence from tyrannical power was worth the cost. What do we believe today?
The newest nominee for the United Supreme Court, Ms. Kagan , is not persuaded of the force of the rights spelled out so carefully in the Declaration of Independence. And now we learn that one in four Americans doesn’t know from whom the United States declared its independence. (Marist Poll July 02, 2010)
Why should that matter, hmmmm?