The eternal meaning of Independence Day

1 July 2023

Video: George Washington reads the Declaration of Independence


From the article The eternal meaning of Independence Day, Powerline, July 4, 2014:

President Calvin Coolidge celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1926, with a speech providing a magisterial review of the history and thought underlying the Declaration. His speech on the occasion deserves to be read and studied in its entirety. The following paragraph, however, is particularly relevant to the challenge that confronts us in the variants of the progressive dogma that pass themselves off today as the higher wisdom:


"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."


Independence Day and the Recovery of True Freedom, by Bruce Thornton, FrontPage Mag, July 4, 2018:

... freedom is not "doing as one likes," which is not true freedom, but what the 18th century called license, a selfish indulgence that cares nothing for the good of the state as a whole, but everything for the needs and ambitions of one faction or ideology.  This selfishness breeds tyranny and the loss of freedom, for to act on whatever selfish appetites and passions that arise in one, is to enslave the soul to them and subject the self and the political community to their destructive effects....

Genuine freedom, then, is defined by restraints and limits on human nature's destructive "passions and interests," as James Madison called them. And the most dangerous passion is the lust for power...

Our modern tyrants, the big-government progressives, have created Tocqueville's soft despotism, which has been as effective as violence in destroying true freedom. Ordered liberty has indeed been reduced to mere license, as the ancients predicted. The first step in this process in our time has been secularization, the driving of religion from the public square and the reduction of it to a private lifestyle choice. In this way the moral order sanctioned by "Nature's God" and the "Supreme Judge of the world," as the Declaration describes the divine order, that once enforced limits on license and self-indulgence, now can be marginalized and bereft of its power to sanction destructive behavior. This leaves the state as the only authority for regulating people's lives.

Next, as Polybius says, the redistribution of property through taxation and entitlement spending also erodes the autonomy of the citizens by fostering dependence, at the same time the state has to grow ever more powerful and intrude ever more intimately into private life in order to manage and control this distribution. The citizens gradually become more and more hooked on various transfers and subsidies from the state, even as they surrender more and more autonomy over their lives to ensure that the state-funded benefits keep coming.

Meanwhile, this erosion of their freedom is masked by the short-term pleasure of getting something for nothing. Virtues like self-reliance and self-responsibility, vital for political freedom, weaken, even as the Constitution's balance of powers is disrupted by an activist judiciary and an overweening executive branch and its massive and minutely intrusive federal bureaucracy. The traditional limits on license thus disappear, paving the way for governmental tyranny and the decay of freedom....

Trump has taken the first steps necessary for restoring our freedom and autonomy: fighting the federal government and attacking its hubristic powers. Whether he and we the people can continue the fight for freedom, not just in our politics but in our daily lives, remains to be seen. But this Fourth of July let's take a moment to appreciate that we now have the best chance since Ronald Reagan to achieve that aim.


The Leave Campaign of 1776 Reverberates to This Day, Jeff Jacoby, Townhall July 3, 2016:

European Union has been widely described as the country's most consequential decision in decades. But its significance is paltry compared to that of history's original "Leave" resolution, the 240th anniversary of which Americans commemorate this Fourth of July.

The unanimous vote in the Second Continental Congress, which affirmed that "these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states ... absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown," was the most far-reaching political event of the 18th century. John Adams, writing from Philadelphia to his wife Abigail, called the vote not just "the greatest decision . . . which ever was debated in America," but possibly the greatest that ever "was or will be decided among men."..

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again," [Thomas] Paine had written. "A race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom." Americans were the first nation in history to declare independence, replacing rule by a king with rule by consent of the governed. It was a transformation that permanently altered the course of human events. Long after "Brexit" has been forgotten, the events of 1776 will still be reverberating.



Four Things Every American Should Know About the Declaration of Independence, by Jonathan W. Pidluzny, The American Mind, July 4, 2019.

Calvin Coolidge: ‘If All Men Are Created Equal, That Is Final’, by Calvin Coolidge, American Greatness, July 3, 2019.

The Lessons of the Declaration of Independence, by Elizabeth Eastman, American Greatness, July 3, 2019.

Why We Celebrate The 4th Of July, The Last Refuge, July 4, 2018.


Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? What happened in 1776? Will Witt went to the beach to see if people know.


Audio: Born by Declaration: How Thirteen United Colonies Became the United States, Breitbart, July 1, 2016.

Audio: Warner Todd Huston on the Origins and Genius of the American Revolution, Breitbart, July 4, 2016.

Audio: The American Revolution — The War That Won Our Freedom, Breitbart, July 1, 2016.

Audio: Michael Pack on Legendary George Washington and Timeless Alexander Hamilton, Breitbart, July 4, 2016.


The Right to Happiness is the Antidote to Tyranny, by Daniel Greenfield, D.C. Clothesline, July 4, 2016.

‘Land of Hope’: An American History Textbook That Offers a Balanced View of Our Country’s Story, Breitbart, July 4, 2019.

Book: Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay. 

Complete version of "The Star-Spangled Banner"