The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, contained words that are astounding more than 200 years later.
“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.”
The definition of freedom means different things to different people, then and today. When our nation’s founders edited their Declaration, for example, they deleted Thomas Jefferson’s words that would have abolished slavery.
Today, our government continues to wrangle with how much freedom to allow to whom, and how much safety and happiness we should pursue. But our governance is by laws, not by kings or dictators, armies or ayatollahs, so ultimately the choices are made by we, the people.