Article 1.1 – Definition of Terms – Independence – First two Paragraphs

Bryan & Janice Snyder

 

First Paragraph: The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God: This phrase was a well-known legal phrase during the founding era.  Everyone knew what it meant back then.

 

  • The Laws of Nature: A rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator, and existing prior to any [written] precept.  Thus, it is a law of nature that one man should not injure another…  (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition.)  In other words, the Laws of Nature are laws which are intuitively known to man, through his God-Given Conscience.
  • The Laws of Nature’s God:  …the moral law…contained in the… 10 Commandments written by the finger of God.  (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition.)  Another primary source, Sir William Blackstone, one of the foremost legal authorities of the founding era, wrote that “The Laws of Nature’s God” included all “Revealed law,” which meant other divine laws found in the Bible, in addition to the 10 Commandments.
  • It is really important that we learn and understand the meaning of this phrase, The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, because it established the very basis for all law and government during America’s founding!  If a law enacted on the people by the government fell within the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, then the people were bound to obey it.  Any law that fell outside the boundaries of the of the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God was considered “Pretended Legislation,” and the people WERE NOT BOUND TO OBEY IT!  (See grievances #13 and #19 on page 37 of your pocket Constitution.)

 

Second Paragraph – First Sentence: 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 them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

 

  • CreatedThe Founders considered the existence of a Creator God to be the most fundamental premise of ALL self-evident truth.
  • Equal:  Everyone knows that no two human beings are exactly alike in any way.  The Founders used this word to mean equality under the law.  Everyone, whether they were rich or poor, black or white, should be held accountable and tried under the same set of laws.
  • Unalienable Rights: From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, we learn that “Unalienable” basically means that which cannot be withdrawn or taken away.  Our Founders believed that there were certain inherent rights of all human beings that came directly from God (Endowed by their Creator), and that no person or government can take these rights from us (Unalienable Rights.)
  • Thomas Jefferson’s phrase Pursuit of Happiness included the natural, God-Given, unalienable right to private property ownership, that is, the means of acquiring and possessing property.

 

Second Paragraph – Second Sentence: That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

  • “…to secure these rights, governments are instituted…  This part clearly states that the Founders’ purpose of (civil) government was to secure or protect our unalienable, God-Given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • “…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”  This means that “WE THE PEOPLE” are supposed to decide what powers our civil government has, not the other way around!
  • Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence does it say that the purpose of government includes providing entitlements, goods and services like healthcare or other things like that!

The information we have just learned, from the Founders’ own words in the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, represents their “American View” of law and government during the founding of our nation.  This American View can be summed up as follows:

 

  • There is a God, the God of the Bible.

 

  • Our Rights Come From Him.

 

  • The Purpose of a Civil (Earthly) Government is to Protect These God-Given Rights.

 

This is the essence of the twelve week “Institute on the Constitution” course (IOTC) www.theamericanview.com.