My favorite line from the Declaration of Independence?
It's not how "we hold these truths to be self-evident" –– even though that is one of the neatest summaries of all time (all are created equal, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).
Nor is it how governments "derive their power from the will of the governed," which is likewise very elegant.
That initial section endures and continues to inspire.
No, the part I enjoy most is where the reasons for the rebellion from Britain and its king are set out in full and querulous detail. It's a laundry list of offenses, including my personal favorite:
"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 & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."*
This is just one of a couple of dozen of reasons that the 13 states agreed to start the Revolution. You can feel the outrage and exhaustion –– though it was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, the whole document was agreed to by committee.
Sadly, other complaints against the King (like this one: "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or incur miserable death in transportation thither.") didn't make the cut. How different a Republic it would have been had that one made it.
*Don't recognize these lines? That's okay. National Public Radio broadcasts the Declaration in full every year and you can read the whole thing in a careful ten minutes or so.. Here's a link to our fantastic National Archives transcription.
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