How the Declaration of Independence got Hijacked
Sunday, June 23, 2013
This July 4th Americans celebrate their 237th Independence Day. The Declaration of Independence, signed during the midst of the American Revolution in 1776, was not just a statement of grievances against the British monarchy but also a declaration of freedom from it, citing unalienable rights of self-governance. I said un-alienable, not in-alienable rights. Most believe there is no real difference between the two words. But not so fast. When unalienable was replaced with inalienable it diminished the original intention of personal rights; among which are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence begins with the reason for the colonists’ separation from the Monarchy; a separation stated to be entitled by “the Laws of Nature and nature’s God.” (Capitalization and lack of capitalization is original.) It continues:
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…
In spite of the fact at the time of the Declaration unalienable rights were considered to be for white men only, the word, unalienable, refers to rights inherent to all humans, no matter gender or race. I find it interesting how the word unalienable is rarely used anymore and that modern versions of the Declaration now use the word inalienable. Even President Obama uses the word inalienable. What’s up with that?