By Larry Kudlow
What is the Fourth of July? It’s a wonderful time. We’re outdoors. We’re with family and friends. We’re playing golf or fishing. There are barbecues and baseball and fireworks and all that good stuff. And beneath it all, supporting it all, there is freedom. Freedom. The Fourth of July is about freedom, if nothing else. America’s freedom, of course. But a freedom that extends to all people. One that leads to greatness and prosperity. A freedom that has become the backbone of the world. I would like to take a moment this holiday to revisit the sources of that freedom. They were outlined so eloquently in perhaps the greatest document ever written, the Declaration of Independence. And they’re as crucial now as they were 241 years ago. It’s a well-known story. Back in 1776, the Continental Congress sought freedom from tyranny. They said, “We’re revolting against a British monarchy and parliament that doesn’t represent us. We’re rebelling against laws we don’t control and are capricious to say the least.”
To formalize this revolt, the congress formed a committee of five. Chosen were Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingstone (New Jersey), John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Roger Sherman (Connecticut). A pretty spiffy group of thinkers and writers. Their task was to draft a statement of independence — although what they came up with was so much more. Their document, “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” was adopted on July 4, 1776, after days of debate and revision. The document begins: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
I’d like to underscore the civility of that opening. This document is an example of civility. The great American revolt was a defense of the right of discussion. Civil discourse. Respectful disagreement.