Not only did the land belong to the king but the people were essentially owned by the king as well. It was the king that established what social class you would be a part of; if you were lucky enough, the king might grant you a title of nobility and a certain amount of permissions with his land and people as well. It was the king that told you what you were allowed to say, what you were not allowed to say, what religion you had to practice, what taxes you must pay and how often you would pay them. The king was not a public servant sworn to protect the rights of the people, as our elected leadership is supposed to be.
The most remarkable document to establish the principles of liberty and personal freedom came from the American colonies when the Second Continental Congress unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence to sever the political bonds which connected the colonies to British rule. The Founding Fathers of American government believed that the sole purpose of government was for the benefit of protecting the rights of the citizens, not the right of the rulers. They also believed that the doctrine of the divine right of kings was an oppressive, moral transgression against humanity and that no government, man, or woman for that matter, had the right to rule over his fellow man without their consent. Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and this date has been celebrated as the birthday of the United States of America ever since.
The Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of our American government. Although the United States Constitution provides us with the walls of American government, those walls only stand because of the self- evident truths and principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. For example, look at the principles that Thomas Jefferson wrote into its text where it says “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal...” Stated here is the principle of equality. The Declaration of Independence goes on to say, “That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” This is where Jefferson mentions inherent rights. Although we are not created with equal physical attributes, abilities, or wealth, we are created equal under God and the Law.
The Declaration of Independence is most remarkable for its revolutionary statement, “That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” This statement boldly declares that the only valid purpose behind the existence of any government is to do one thing: protect individual rights. Have you ever wondered how your tax money being sent to someone who hasn’t even applied for a job in the last six months does anything to protect your right to keep your own income? Have you ever wondered how congress could introduce over 5,000 bills a year and all of them are for the protection of your rights? My guess is that most of those bills, in some way or another, do nothing more than infringe on your rights, even if it’s just by wasting your tax money or regulating what kind of light bulbs you are allowed to use.
Now let me quote the previous part of the Declaration of Independence and continue on just a little with the principle that defines the existence of the US Constitution and tells you what this little book is all about. This is the principle:
“That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Let me touch on the last part of that quote where it says, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It is from this that the principle of self-government is taken. From the Declaration of Independence, we can come to the conclusion that government is only legitimate if it does the following two things:
1. Secures and protects the inherent rights of the citizens
2. Operates with the consent of the citizens
One excellent way to establish your political view would be to read the Declaration of Independence and use the principles it contains as a filter of sorts. In other words, if the government, at any level, is operating without having met the criteria listed above, then it may very well be in- fringing on your inherent, God given, rights to one extent or another. As you read through this book, you will understand that American citizens should make a big deal out of small infringements.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “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...” In other words, what our Founding Fathers were asserting was the fact that the King of England, or any king for that matter, did not hold all inherent rights and sovereignty unto himself. Simply because all men are created equal, all men are sovereign; each one unto himself is bestowed with sovereignty at the moment of creation and therefore, each man is his own king.
What exactly does it mean to be sovereign? I am glad you asked! If you were to pick up a Black’s Law Dictionary, you would most likely find a couple of definitions similar to these:
Sovereignty – Sovereign –
-Holding supreme dominion, authority, or rule.
-A person, body, or state bestowed with independent and supreme authority.
The easiest way to illustrate sovereignty is to give you the example of a man who owns one acre of land that borders your property. If you want to walk across his land you will have to ask his permission. You must ask permission only because the land you want to use does not belong to you; you have no right to it. You, however, can walk across, build fences on, dig holes in, and burn your land if you choose to because you own it; you have the right to it.You do not need to ask permission to exercise your right; you are sovereign. You only need to ask permission if you don’t have a right.
What you need to understand is that you are a sovereign individual. You are bestowed with the sole owner- ship of your person; therefore, you have the supreme authority over the inherent rights that God gave you at the exact moment of your creation. For example, your thoughts are inherent because your thoughts cannot be separated from your mind and you are sovereign over your thoughts because you own them; you have the supreme authority over them, and no one can take them from you or control them for you. Alexander Hamilton may not have always been the best champion of limited government, but he was right on when he explained,
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
Just for further understanding, you, and only you, own the rights to your body, your thoughts, as well as the right to do what is necessary to preserve your life. You have a conscience that is inherent and therefore cannot be separated from you either. You have the inherent right of self-preservation just by the virtue of the laws of nature; your body’s sole function is to keep you alive. Your individual and inherent rights will always be with you until the day you die simply because they cannot be extracted from your person; you are a sovereign individual.
Although inherent rights cannot by any means be extracted from you, it is possible for you to allow someone else to suppress them; at the most, you can let them claim ownership of you. For example, if you tell me that someone has taken away your freedom of speech, I will tell you that it is only because you surrendered your freedom to speak when you decided that you were unwilling to speak; you have allowed yourself to be enslaved. Thomas Jefferson often refers to inherent rights as “Natural Law” because your freedom of speech is just asnatural as your ability to speak; you are using the faculties that your Creator gave you in order to manifest your inherent rights and abilities. These natural rights are yours until you die, at the most, you may choose not to exercise them; however, no one can by any means take them from you; once again, you are a sovereign person.
One of our Founding Fathers, Patrick Henry, is remembered for a speech he gave in which he declared, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” What Mr. Henry is enlightening us to is the fact that there is no middle ground between liberty and slavery. You are never only half free or only one-third a slave; you are either free or you are not. Either you claim absolute ownership over yourself, or you do not. Those men and women around the world who died fighting for their freedom did, in fact, die free. The point is this: you will always be free as long as you exercise your freedom; even if you exercise freedom in the face of opposition, you are still free. The day you surrender you freedom is the day you enslave yourself. The only other alternative to slavery is death, hence Mr. Henry’s famous quote, “Give me Liberty or give me death.” You are a sovereign individual no matter what. The question is this: will you fold and give yourself over to slavery or will you exercise your sovereignty even if it means death?
After several years of bloodshed, the British finally recognized America’s Declaration of Independence. Soon afterward, a new government was created with the ratification of the United States Constitution. Written over the course of several months of debate, the US Constitution was composed for the purpose of establishing a government designed solely to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Our Founding Fathers established new and innovative measures to ensure that the new American government would always be in the hands of the people so that the government could only operate with the consent and particular involvement of the citizens themselves.
The United States Constitution could not be complete without establishing within it the principles of individual sovereignty and self-government as written in the Declaration of Independence; and as you will see, it has. Americans, unlike the people of any other country, have a governing document designed for the protection of the individual.
Copyright 2009 Paul Curtman, Don't Tread On Me, All rights Reserved.