“The history of the present [government] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.” An interesting quote. Sounds like it came from a talk radio diatribe, or possibly from a right-wing conservative blog. Actually, it comes from our Declaration of Independence. In that document the term I have in brackets—government— was actually “King of Great Britain.”
In fact, the entire Declaration of Independence is a long list of the ways in which the King of Great Britain and Parliament were violating the established laws of England with respect to the citizens in the thirteen colonies. The concluding paragraph of the Declaration of Independence starts, “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 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;” When the government breaks the law, the government must change.
The fifty-five men who signed the Declaration of Independence spent months in debate. They did not consider the steps they were taking to be trivial or hyperbole. In fact, they state in the last sentence, “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.” And suffer many of them did. Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. One example of the price these men paid for freedom was Thomas Nelson, Jr., of Virginia. At the battle of Yorktown, Nelson noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
If you and your children have never read the Declaration of Independence, I suggest you go to the website, www.founding
fathers.info. You will find many of our founding documents there including both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Our society is becoming more and more polarized and fractious because of political issues. It seems that everything has become politicized. Unfortunately, I don’t think this trend will abate any time soon. Therefore, it is important that you spend time in your homeschool helping your children put the political issues in context.
What is the true role of government? God tells us to respect our governmental authorities. Yet, governments can overstep their legitimate boundaries and must be stopped. The Axis powers in World War II are examples of governments that went too far. Reading the founding documents of our country, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution will help you understand how to evaluate the legitimate role for government in our society today.
A bloated and unresponsive government was preying upon its citizens back in the 1770’s. Instead of protecting them, it was attacking them with onerous taxes and unjust laws and policies. The colonies did not rebel. They correctly showed that it was the King and Parliament who were acting illegally (documented in the Declaration of Independence) and that the colonies had to separate from them in order to maintain an ordered and just society.
Once the colonies had separated, they needed to establish a new government in order to prevent chaos. The Constitution describes this new government. The tyranny of England was still fresh in the minds of the founding fathers as they debated the provisions of the Constitution which is why there is so much emphasis on checks and balances in the Constitution. This month is the perfect time to read our country’s founding documents together as a family and discuss them over the supper table. While celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, you can discuss why the Declaration was necessary and under what conditions would it ever again become necessary to establish a new government.
Throughout this month there will be a lively debate in Congress about the nature of the Constitution due to the nominee being considered for appointment to the Supreme Court. This is a good time to teach your children about the character of men, the importance of a worldview, the corrupting influence of power, and the need for a foundation of laws to create an ordered and just society that even judges need to obey.
The political divide in our country is becoming sharper and deeper. When you look at the actions of our federal government over the past 20 years, the words of the Declaration of Independence, written 234 years ago, seem to be coming true again today. “The history of the present [government] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.” The only way to combat usurpations and tyranny is for the citizenry to be informed and active. The foundations of our civilization need to be passed on to the next generation—your children.
Ray Sheen has been involved with homeschooling for over 25 years. He and his wife, Holly, homeschooled their daughters from birth through high school, and advised them through their college-at-home experience. Their daughters have now earned their Bachelors Degrees. He has also served in leadership positions for several homeschooling organizations at the local, state, and national level.