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What to Celebrate on the Fourth of July

Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, 1986On July 4, 1776, the Founders declared to the world not only that the colonies would henceforth be independent from Britain, but also, and more fundamentally,

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.

This was the beginning of the first moral country on earth—a country in which individual rights were to be explicitly recognized and protected.

Although slavery persisted for several decades after the founding, this aberration was ultimately recognized as incompatible with the basic principle of America and thus eradicated. Between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century, America came close to being a fully rights-respecting society. Men were essentially free to live their own lives, by their own judgment, for their own sake. This was the Land of Liberty. And this is what we should work to achieve again.

On the Fourth of July, celebrate not the rights-violating, welfare state that America has become, but what America once was and could be again. Celebrate man’s “unalienable Rights.” Celebrate the principle that the proper purpose of government is “to secure these rights.” Celebrate the principle 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, most of all, celebrate the Founders, who recognized and codified these principles, thus making possible the degree of freedom we still enjoy and the moral ideal to which we should return.

Let the fireworks explode!


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