By Bill Moore
As we celebrate our independence from England on July 4, I again marvel at the genius of our Founding Fathers. They wrote:
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.
How important those words are. Think about it: government is given the right to govern by its citizenry.
The importance of petitioning government was clearly pronounced in the Declaration of Independence. It followed submitting “to a candid world” the list of reasons for declaring independence. The Declaration of Independence contains 27 citations in which King George III was denounced for “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.”
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Our Founders not only petitioned George III, but directly appealed to the British citizens for help.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish (sic) brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
This year marks 242 years of our nation’s independence. It has been 229 years since our government began operating under the Constitution. The most important words in our governing document are “We the People.” Let us never forget them, and our obligation to petition our government whenever the need arises.
This Fourth of July consider the courage of our Founders when together they pledged “to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” in the cause of freedom.
I encourage everyone to celebrate our independence by reading the Declaration of Independence and reflecting on its importance as our founding document.
Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.