American Heritage: Signing the ‘Declaration’ was dangerousPublished 10:26pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011
“When the 56 men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, King George ordered his soldiers to find and execute them all, putting an end to the ‘foolish’ rebellion,” (For You They Signed, Pg. xvii).
Signing this document was dangerous. To sign the Declaration of Independence meant that the signers were living on borrowed time. But, freedom meant sacrifice, even the sacrifice of their lives. So, even with the threat of death hanging over their heads, they signed this marvelous and bold document. They were now “marked men.”
What these men had done was considered as “high treason” by the king. “The penalty for high treason was: To be hanged by the head until unconscious. Then cut down and revived. Then disembowled and beheaded. Then cut into quarters. Each quarter was to be boiled in oil. The remnants were scattered abroad so that the last resting place of the offender would remain forever unnamed, unhonored and unknown,” (The Making of America, Pg. 31).
What in the world had the king done that would cause the colonists to place their lives in such jeopardy by coming up with a document like this? I will just list a few of the items that are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. (See if any of the things mentioned sound like things that are happening today or are “in the works” of our government today.)
1. The king refused to “Assent to Laws” or agree to laws that were for the public good. He had his own agenda for the people and that is all that concerned him.
2. He forbid his governors to pass laws of necessity and pressing importance until he would agree to the laws. It took, very often, forever to get his approval and the colonists had to suffer much, including death, as a result. Then, when he did finally approve something, he would fail to follow through by officially enforcing the laws that he finally approved.
3. Often, he dissolved the representatives of the people because they disagreed with him when he acted against the rights of the people.
4. The result of that action was a lack of protection against the dangers of invading forces from outside the individual colonies. Without representatives, the borders of the colonies were not protected because there was no one with authority to make immediate decisions or initiate actions against the invaders. In fact, there wasn’t even an ability to put down internal “convulsions” or uprisings or riots within the colonies.
5. He installed his own offices of government without the consent of the people. The officials that he appointed would harass the people without fear of any restraint or punishment for doing so.
6. He subjected the people to a jurisdiction that was foreign to their constitutions.
7. If governing officials or members of his military would break laws or commit murder on innocent colonists, the aggressors were given “mock” trials and set free without punishment.
8. He imposed taxes upon the people without their consent.
9. Colonial citizens were robbed of their right of trial by jury.
10. He forbid the people to bear arms to protect themselves. Therefore, citizens were taken captive on the high seas and not able to protect themselves from their own country. I’m not making these things up. They are listed in the Declaration of Independence. You can read them for yourself.
We don’t have to look very hard at what is going on today in the name of “national security,” “health care reform” and other areas, that some of these very things, along with other things that I did not record here, are beginning to creep into our government today. We have governing officials, in very high positions that are trying to impose many of these very same things upon our American citizens today.
In closing, I’d like to quote some of the closing remarks of the Declaration of Independence:
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress, Assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world (my emphasis — speaking of God) for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the 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 for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence (emphasis mine — speaking of God) we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
“Separation of church and state?” It doesn’t look like it to me from the statements of the Declaration of Independence. The writers of this declaration pointed out that their individual rights were given to them by God and not by men. They appealed to the “supreme judge of the world” for the rectitude or rightness of principle or conduct, be allowed to have the rights that he had given them.
They firmly trusted in “the protection of the divine Providence,” which was their way of acknowledging God, as they tried to represent these 13 colonies in breaking away for the oppression under the King of England, and in pledging their allegiance to one another in taking this action to become free.