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.

The Declaration of Independence has 4 main parts:

1. The preamble, or forward, that announces the reason for the document, 

2. A declaration of peoples’ natural rights and relationship to government

3. A list of complaints against King George 111, the British king, and

4. A conclusion that formally states America’s Independence

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 affect their Safety and Happiness.

The beginning is marked by a Declaration of TRUTHS not suggestions, not suppositions, not just theoretical ideas, but truths that are so obvious they are

SELF-EVIDENT meaning that  they are so obvious that there is no need to be demonstrated or explained

That ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL meaning that the creation of them is equal — equal in God’s sight, their worth and value, their importance regardless of their station in life, or their physical attributes, their intellectual properties, their wealth and material goods, their successes and/or failures — their creation is equal!  (What they make of their opportunities and their circumstances in life is completely different from their creation.) 

That they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR meaning provided with a quality, ability, or asset by their CREATOR — they are inherent within the human being just because he is created

With certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS that which cannot be transferred to another — rights are those things that justly belong to one.

That among these —implying that the ones listed are not the only ones endowed by our Creator

Are LIFE meaning that state of existence from conception to death

LIBERTY meaning freedom from restraint, and is applicable to the body or to the will or the mind.  That liberty consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, so far only abridged and restrained as is necessary and expedient for the safety and best interest of the society, state, or nation.  Any restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public is tyranny and oppression.

And the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS meaning the act of following with a view to reach, accomplish or obtain.  In our early founding documents, sermons, journals, diaries, and publications, the word happiness was synonymous with property.

James Madison wrote that “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”  He asserted that “conscience is our most sacred property” reflecting the Founders’ view that one’s thoughts, religious beliefs, opinions — and the free communication of them — represented the essence of property.  This meant that an individual has the right to integrity in his views, his body, his choice of occupation, as well as his belongings.

Samuel Adams wrote, “Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?”

Where people are secure in the knowledge that what they work to obtain and grow is theirs — that it cannot justly be taken away from them arbitrarily — they are free to go about their lives, providing for themselves, their family, and their posterity.

That to SECURE THESE RIGHTS meaning to make them free from danger of being taken by an enemy; free from danger; to guard effectually from danger.

GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED among men – meaning that the securing of the rights that God has given that cannot be transferred to another is the sole purpose of governments being established.

DERIVING THEIR JUST POWERS meaning that governments so instituted receive their legitimate power 

From the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED meaning that those governed yield their permission, their agreement, their submission, and yielded-ness to the legitimate government restraints for the purposes mentioned above and for no other.

The remainder of the Declaration contains a long list of abuses and usurpations by the King of England and his government officials and details the colonists attempts to address and petition for English Constitutional treatment like every other English citizen.  These should be read by every American citizen to understand the just and righteous causes of  separating from England.  It ends with a powerful declaration of consent and submission to the new government and an appeal to God as the Supreme Judge of the world.

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 — it was all they had, and they gave it all!

This document is the first in the history of the world that expresses the CHRISTIAN IDEA OF MAN AND GOVERNMENT!

(C) Patricia Holloway Smith