It’s in my blood, I suppose, given that I’ve devoted such a large part of my life to the study and creation of words. But I love reading historical documents, absorbing the language of other time periods and cultures, pulling apart the lines to find deeper meaning, comparing them with what I’ve learned from other sources.
On the Fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence seems an especially fitting read. I won’t share all of it, but here are two quick excerpts to digest.
The second paragraph of the Declaration famously begins:
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.
Jefferson and his cohorts follow with a series of reasons as to why the colonies should “alter their former Systems of Government,” and ultimately declare:
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.
What a game changer those words turned out to be.
Happy Fourth of July!