Jouornal #16 Thomas Jefferson
November 12, 2009
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain...And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another." (Jefferson 655)
"Nothing can be more absurd than the cavil that the Declaration contains known and not new truths. The object was to assert, not to discover truths, and to make them the basis of the Revolutionary act." (Letter to Thomas Jefferson by James Madison on September 6, 1823)
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson goes on an elaborate attack on the British Empire and King George in particular, citing his violation to the rights of life and his lust for violence as well as war for his own greed as crimes and sins. This passage was ultimately dropped from the Declaration of Independence.
Oppression is, throughout history, the fundamental root cause of most revolutions across the world. Whether it is the Roman slave rebellion led by gladiator Spartacus, or the English Revolution in the wake of the execution of Charles I, or the American Revolution, it could be seen that it is oppression that drives people to revolt and to rebel. It is within human nature, and indeed the nature of every other living organism, to push back when cornered, to attack when too much pressure and force is delivered. For Jefferson to stand up against the British rule, and to construct the document that influenced the United States for years to come is, in itself, a feat that cannot be easily matched within the history of this country.
Yet, as we shower Jefferson with respect and pride the Declaration of Independence as the ideal of America, we must also look at this country and her place in the world as of now. Isn't the United States edging closer and closer to what Britain did? Wars are being waged and still the agenda is unclear. Other countries are constantly forced to the brink by America, either by the strong hand of economical coercion or by simple intimidation of power. Jefferson claimed it as a right and duty to go against tyrannical powers in situations where revolution is deemed necessary. With the actions of America within the past fifty years, is she inching closer and closer to that boundary when other countries would rise up and revolt against her? One could but only hope the United States would not follow the path in which Britain ventured through three centuries ago. If the object is to assert truths within the Declaration, let us make sure that this country would adhere to them.