“The Declaration Of Independence Has Been Mocked Out Of Meaning” is the current column, now on Townhall.com. It toasts The Declaration, Thomas Jefferson and the Anglo-Saxon tradition, from which Jefferson drew.
For most Americans, Independence Day means firecrackers and cookouts. The Declaration of Independence—whose proclamation, on July 4, 1776, we celebrate—doesn’t feature in the celebration. Contemporary Americans are less likely to read it now that it’s easily available on the Internet, than when it relied on horseback riders for its distribution.
It is fair to say that the Declaration of Independence has been mocked out of meaning.
Back in 1776, gallopers carried the Declaration through the country. Printer John Dunlap had worked “through the night” to set the full text on “a handsome folio sheet,” recounts historian David Hackett Fischer in Liberty And Freedom. And the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, urged that the “people be universally informed.” (They were!)
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, called it “an expression of the American Mind.” An examination of Jefferson’s constitutional thought makes plain that he would no longer consider the collective mentality of contemporary Americans and their leaders (Rep. Ron Paul excepted) “American” in any meaningful way. For the Jeffersonian mind was that of an avowed Whig—an American Whig whose roots were in the English, Whig political philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Come to think of it, Jefferson would not recognize England as the home of the Whigs in whose writings colonial Americans were steeped—John Locke, Algernon Sidney, Paul Rapin, Thomas Gordon and others.
The essence of this “pattern of ideas and attitudes,” almost completely lost today, explains David N. Mayer in The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson, was a view of government as an inherent threat to liberty and the necessity for eternal vigilance. …
… READ THE REST. The complete column is “The Declaration Of Independence Has Been Mocked Out Of Meaning,” now on Townhall.com.