On July 2, at 11:30 a.m., Colonel James Wood II’s Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution read the Declaration of Independence on the porch of the Warren Heritage Society Archives. The Chapter Color Guard also fired a three volley musket salute to commemorate the signing of the document.
Compatriots participating: Sean Carrigan, Paul Christensen, Dave Cook, Jim Cordes, Dale Corey, Chip Daniel, Jim Heflin, Marc Robinson, Bill Schwetke, Jime Simmons, Mike St Jacques and Richard Tyler.
Visit the Warren Heritage Society at 101 Chester Street in Front Royal for more information on the signers of Virginia’s Declaration of Independence.
The National Archives provided us with the following:
The Declaration of Independence was designed for multiple audiences: the king, the colonists and the world. It was also designed for multitasking. Its aims were to rally the troops, gain foreign allies and announce the creation of a new country. The introductory sentence states the main purpose of the Declaration, to explain the settlers’ right to revolution. In other words, “declare the causes that push them to the separation”. Congress had to prove the legitimacy of its cause. He had just challenged the most powerful nation on Earth. Foreign allies had to be motivated to join the fight.
Here are the lines contemporary Americans know best: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, freedom and the pursuit of Happiness.” These moving words were designed to convince Americans to put their lives on the line for the cause. Separation from the motherland threatened their sense of security, economic stability and identity. The preamble sought to inspire and unite them through the vision of a better life.
List of grievances
The list of 27 complaints against King George III constitutes proof of the right to rebellion. Congress has expressed “the causes that drive them to separation” in universal terms for an international audience. Join our fight, read the subtext, and you join humanity’s fight against tyranny.
The most important and dramatic statement comes near the end: “That these united colonies are, and by right, free and independent states. He declares a complete break with Great Britain and its king and claims the powers of an independent country.
Note: The following is a transcription of the stonecut from the Declaration of Independence parchment (the document on display in the rotunda of the National Archives Museum.) Spelling and punctuation reflect the original.
To Congress, July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political ties which have bound it to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal rank to which the laws of nature and nature God entitles them, a decent respect for the opinions of men requires that they declare the causes which push them to separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to guarantee these rights, Governments are instituted among men, drawing their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever a form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to modify it or abolishing it, and instituting a new government, laying its foundation upon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them will seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, in fact, dictates that governments long established should not be changed for slight and passing causes; and consequently all experience has shown that humanity is more disposed to suffer, while the evils are bearable, than to straighten itself out by abolishing the forms to which it is accustomed. But when a long series of abuses and usurpations, invariably pursuing the same object, manifests the design of reducing them to absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to get rid of this government and to furnish new guards to their future safety. .–Such has been the patient suffering of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which compels them to modify their old systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is one of repeated insults and usurpations, all having as their direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove it, let’s submit the facts to a candid world.
He refused his assent to the laws, the soundest and most necessary to the public good.
He forbade his governors to pass laws of immediate and urgent importance, unless they were suspended in their operation until his assent was obtained; and when he is thus suspended, he has completely neglected to attend to it.
He refused to pass further laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless such people would renounce the right of representation in the legislature, a right invaluable to them and dreadful to tyrants alone.
He summoned the legislative bodies to unusual, uncomfortable places far from the repository of their public records, for the sole purpose of harassing them to conform to his measures.
He has repeatedly dissolved the Houses of Representatives, for having opposed with manly firmness his attacks on the rights of the people.
He refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to have others elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, are returned to the people as a whole for their exercise; the State remaining meanwhile exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions within.
He endeavored to prevent the population of these states; to this end obstruct the laws on the naturalization of foreigners; refusing to cross paths with others to encourage their migrations here, and raising the conditions for further Land Appropriations.
He obstructed the administration of justice by withholding his assent to the laws establishing judicial powers.
He made the judges dependent on his will alone, for the duration of their functions, the amount and the payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent here swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.
He affected to make the military independent and superior to the civil power.
He joined with others to submit us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and not recognized by our laws; assenting to their Acts of purported Legislation:
To barrack large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a sham trial, from punishment for any murder they may have committed upon the inhabitants of these States:
To cut off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
To deprive us, in many cases, of the advantages of the Trial by Jury:
For transporting us across the seas to stand trial for alleged crimes
For having abolished the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, having established there an arbitrary government and extending its borders so as to make it both an example and an instrument apt to introduce the same absolute rule into these colonies:
For removing our charters, abolishing our most precious laws and fundamentally altering the forms of our governments:
To suspend our own legislatures and declare themselves invested with the power to legislate for us in all cases whatever.
He has abdicated the government here, declaring us out of his protection and waging war on us.
He plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our cities and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting great armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy hardly paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and utterly unworthy of the leader of a civilized nation.
He compelled our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brothers, or to fall into their hands themselves.
He stirred up domestic insurrections among us, and strove to bring the inhabitants of our borders, the ruthless Indian savages, whose known rule of war is indiscriminate destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
At every stage of these oppressions, we have asked for reparation in the most humble terms: our repeated requests have only been answered by repeated wounds. A prince whose character is thus marked by all the acts which can define a tyrant, is unfit to govern a free people.
We have not been lacking in attentions to our British brothers either. We have warned them from time to time of their legislature’s attempts to extend unjustifiable jurisdiction over us. We reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and our installation here. We appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we conjured them by the ties of our common kinship to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our relations and our correspondence. They too were deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation and hold them, as we hold the rest of humanity, enemies in war, friends in peace.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies , publish and solemnly declare that these united colonies are and by right shall be free and independent states; that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and must be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states they have full power to wage war, make peace, enter into alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states can rightly do. And for the support of this Declaration, with firm confidence in the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.