By far the most consequential charter for government throughout all history is the Declaration of Independence. Referring to the Declaration, one scholar writes, “Everything in the colonial period led up to it and everything afterward flowed from it.”

James Wilson was one of six men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. His contribution to the deliberations of the Constitution was second only to James Madison’s. Addressing the Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention for the new constitution, Wilson stated, “I beg to read a few words from the Declaration of Independence made by the representatives of the United States and recognized by the whole Union.”

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 of 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.

Wilson concluded, “This [Declaration] is the broad basis on which our independence [from authoritarian rule] was placed; on the same certain and solid foundation this [the Constitution of the United States] system is erected” (Cited in John Eliot, Elliot’s Debates, The Debates in the Several State Conventions Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: November 20, 1787, Book I, published in 1836, p. 457).

Those teaching that Benjamin Franklin and many other Constitutional Fathers were irreligious, are teaching deceptive falsehoods. Franklin wrote about the First Principle in his Articles of Belief.

I believe there is one supreme, most perfect Being . . . Also when I stretch my imagination through and beyond our system of planets, beyond the visible fixed stars themselves, into that space that is every way infinite, and conceive it filled with suns like ours, each with a chorus of worlds forever moving round him; then this little ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow imagination, to be almost nothing, and myself less than nothing, and of no sort of consequence… That I may be preserved from atheism … Help me, O Father! For all thy innumerable benefits; for life, and reason… My good God, I thank thee!

It is not too late to restore these values. Restoring traditional education would bring these values back to American society.

~ D. Norris

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