Our Declaration of Independence

This posting relates to a previous posting on the American Founding and also relates to Liberal Fundamentalism and The Naked Public Square Revisited, Parts I, II, and III.
Thanks to Power Line for referring to a 1926 speech by Calvin Coolidge on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. If you ever have any doubt that certain apostles of liberal fundamentalism are actively attempting to rewrite our country’s history, read the entire speech. In the meantime, here are some powerful excerpts:

There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.
It was not because it proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history…
…Three very definite propositions were set out in [the Declaration’s] preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed…
While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination…
It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world…
…when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live…
In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignity, the rights of man – these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions…Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish…
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 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…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…
In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people…The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guarantees, which even the government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government — the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction…The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty…
…We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all of our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it…We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed…

The speech connects to an excerpt from another Power Line posting:

Knowledge of American history holds the key to much of the current discussion of political issues, such as the ongoing liberal attack on Christian belief and on arguments premised on belief in God…Absent knowledge of American history, one would never know that the United States is founded on the basis of a creed, rather than on tribal or blood lines, in which God plays a prominent part. Absent knowledge of history generally, one would never know that this fact makes America unique.
What is the American creed?…The American creed is expressed with inspired concision in the words of the Declaration of Independence…
But does the Declaration have any legal status such that these words can be truly deemed to state the American creed? It does, although virtually no one seems to know it. In 1878 Congress enacted a revised version of the United States Code that included a new first section entitled “The Organic Laws of the United States.”
The Code is Congress’s official compilation of federal law; the organic laws of the United States are America’s founding laws. First and foremost of the four organic laws of the United States is the Declaration of Independence…
Professor Jaffa [of the Claremont Institute] teaches us that the Declaration contains four distinct references to God: He is the author of the “laws of…God”; the “Creator” who “endowed” us with our inalienable rights; “the Supreme Judge of the world”; and “Divine Providence.” Americans declared their independence, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions.”
The Declaration states the American creed, the creed that recognizes the source (Nature and Nature’s God) of our rights.

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