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. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
These words from the pen of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence express the founding principles on which our Republic was founded. Jefferson believed that our rights were not given to us by the government, but instead, the government secured the rights given to us by God. Upon this principle, the Revolutionary War was fought because the colonists believed that King George was violating their right of freedom and representative government. This perspective of natural rights given by God united the colonists to resist the oppressive rule of the monarch. Without this principle, the colonists lacked justification for their revolution against England.
I believe this principle is what allows us as American citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make. We need to be ever vigilant that our natural rights as written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are upheld and sustained by those we elect into office. It is essential that we teach these founding principles to our children if we are to maintain our freedom for future generations. As Jefferson said, “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”