By Senator Terry Moulton
Every July 4th, Americans across the country gather for parades, fireworks and picnics to celebrate the birth of our great nation. The Fourth of July is an important annual reminder of the freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought for nearly 250 years ago.
The Founding Fathers believed in the idea that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are granted to us not by any man, not even a king, but by God. These rights, known as the Laws of Nature, are the basis of the Declaration of Independence and were later expanded in the United States Constitution. Equal protection for every man under the law, a fundamental tenet of the Constitution, only holds true if our rights come from God and cannot be taken away by any man or government.
The Declaration of Independence was written in June, 1776 in response to increased tensions between Great Britain and her American colonies. At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Great Britain was deep in debt and felt it should be repaid by its colonies since the war was fought to prevent the French from taking over the colonies. As a result, Parliament passed numerous taxes throughout the 1760s. Colonists were outraged at being taxed without a representative in Parliament and many refused to pay the taxes. After protests over the taxes and the ever-increasing presence of British militia led to the colonists taking up arms against the British, prominent colonial authors like Sam Adams, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson began questioning the validity of Great Britain’s power over the colonies. The question being asked over and over was what right did King George III have to rule another group of men? More than a year after fighting began, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia to create a document that would outline the colonists’ reasoning for splitting from the most powerful nation in the world.
After weeks of writing and revisions by the Continental Congress, a document was produced that outlined the inalienable rights of man. This Declaration of Independence stated that the Laws of Nature – that all men are created equal and are given the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – come from God, not man. When another man or government seeks to eliminate these rights, it is the duty of man to stand up for these rights.
This is exactly what our Founding Fathers did when they signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. They stood up to the largest and most powerful empire in the world and stated that their God-given rights would not be taken away by another human being. Ronald Reagan called the American Revolution the greatest revolution in the history of the world because, for the first time, our Founding Fathers established that we have a God-given right to determine our own destiny.
By signing the Declaration of Independence, these men risked their lives, their fortunes and their freedom. Many would eventually make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom, as countless Americans have since. This year, as you celebrate with family, friends, and fireworks, please take a moment to remember the sacrifices that have been made for you and me to live in the land of the free.
As always, if you have questions or comments about any state-related issues, you can contact me at Sen.Moulton@legis.wisconsin.gov or (888) 437-9436.