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Get inside Jefferson's mind as he defines the American mind and creates the document that made America great in the first place and on July 4th be able to call attention to the reasons for fireworks.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
*The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
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.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
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. 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.
Below you will find the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among them is the Principle Author Thomas Jefferson.
My new eBook: Creating the Declaration of Independence, let’s you into the minds of Richard Henry Lee, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the weeks before July 4, 1776. Experience Lee’s trepidation as he knows when he proposes American Independence to the Second Continental Congress that he is literally risking beheading. Join Adams and Jefferson at City Tavern as they begin crafting the Declaration and follow the story of how Jefferson came to reluctantly draft the Declaration when few others, including Adams thought that Jefferson’s assignment was important. You’ll even learn a shortcut Jefferson used to craft a document of such immortality on such short notice.
*For the story on how Richard Henry Lee proposed independence to the Second Continental Congress see the series:
The Resolution for Independence
*For the story on how Thomas Jefferson came to draft the Declaration of Independence, see the series:
The Birthing of the Declaration of Independence
*To read the Declaration of Independence in Spanish, visit:
La Declaración de Independencia
Constitutional Sound Bites explains America’s Founding documents in a format familiar to 21st century readers. This simple, unbiased, easy-to-read presentation takes into account the”sound bite” nature of today’s cyber-driven, fast-click culture.
Get Volume One as a Kindle e-book on Amazon. Volume Two is available as a Kindle e-book and covers all the Articles of the original Constitution and an Introduction to the Bill of Rights. With Volume Three you’ll learn about The Bill of Rights ,
How Modern Americans Get Information
In the 21st Century, we’ve become used to getting information in small doses of media sound bites, short blog posts and 140 character Tweets. Modern leaders, understanding mass media, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, (“A date which will live in infamy…”), through Barack Obama (“I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America…”) have turned this into an art form.
America’s Revolutionary Leaders Had a Different Medium
The leaders of Revolutionary America understood the communications of their day. After the proposed Constitution was completed on September 17, 1787 the battle for ratification began. Much of it took place in the mass media of the 18th Century: newspapers. Long essays appeared around the country.
The most famous of these essays was a series that became known as The Federalist Papers. These 85 articles by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison when collected into a book run about 400 pages. While The Federalist Papers (and the newspaper essays written by opponents of the Constitution,) remain good reading, it’s not the way 21st Century Americans get information.
How 21st Century Framers Would have Presented the Constitution
If Jay, Hamilton and Madison were communicating with modern Americans, they would have shortened their messages for modern communications, likely into one minute ideas. These books contain one minute ideas or “sound bites” about America’s Founding and The United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
You’ll learn about the people involved in America’s founding, the philosophy behind the founding documents, and the institutions created by the Constitution. This series consists of “sound bites” about America’s Founding documents and shows these documents to be neither Republican nor Democrat, not liberal or conservative, but American.
How These “Sound Bites” Came to Be
Nearly seven years ago I started writing for an online magazine about the US Constitution. The responses and comments led me to realize Americans had a strong thirst for a clear and thorough understanding of their rights under their Constitution. The guest writing turned into a personal website, and the website into a radio show. The weekly show, Constitutionally Speaking, the weekly show resulted in the daily feature: “A Minute of Constitutionally Speaking”.
Those daily one minute features are collected in this series. Volume One also contains the complete Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Before each “sound bite” is a question the “sound bite” answers. They might be considered constitutional FAQs. The Federalist Papers were written to answer questions. It seemed appropriate that Constitutional Sound Bites would answer questions as well.
American Common Ground in the Constitution
The web site, the radio show, the daily feature and this series all have the same goal: to explain the origins, purposes and philosophy of America’s Founding Documents. Too often these days Americans either yell at or talk past one another, even though 86% of us agree the Constitution is relevant to our daily lives. We should have common ground in the Constitution!
These “sound bites” will help us to share that common ground.
In Volume One
In Volume Two
In Volume Three
Purchase Constitutional Sound Bites, the Collected Edition today on Amazon.
Purchase Volume One today as a PDF download at this link or as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.
Purchase Volume Two today as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.
Purchase Volume Three: The Bill of Rights today as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.
These books can be invaluable for educators, for more see Constitutional Sound Bites: Information for Educators
David Shestokas is an attorney licensed in IL and FL and author of Constitutional Sound Bites .
He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Bradley University and J.D. from The John Marshall Law School, cum laude, while serving on the The John Marshall Law Review. He studied law at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
For Spanish speakers he and Dr. Berta Isabel Arias offer a Spanish language translation of Constitutional Sound Bites: Cápsulas Informativas Constitucionales .
Join Dave's over 124,000 followers on Twitter .
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Cápsulas Informativas Constitucionales follows the tradition of informing citizens about the country’s founding documents in their native languages. In 1787, one third of Pennsylvania’s residents were German speakers. Accordingly, of the 4500 copies of the proposed Constitution that legislature ordered, 1500 were in German. Everyone understands important ideas best in their native language, and Cápsulas Informativas Constitucionales recognizes the importance of making available America's First Principles to 36,000,000 Americans.
May 11, 2017 | Kindle eBook
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