“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
Welcome to our final climactic mega-extravaganza post of Secession Week, in which we both celebrate the spirit of ‘76 and lament its shortcomings. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this marriage of heaven and hell more than Thomas Jefferson himself, a giant whose rhetoric still shines in the firmament (We hold these truths to be self-evident), but whose personal life bespeaks moral turpitude (Sally Hemings). As Stephen Gordon of the Liberty Papers writes:
“While I certainly take a great deal of pride in the fact that a lot of people risked their lives, liberty and property to secure a nation free of Europe’s chains, I’ll never forget that we placed even crueler chains upon a significant segment of our own population…
“As a white person of mostly European ancestry, I understand the pride that most Americans feel on Independence Day. As I’m not black, I’ll probably never be able to truly understand the feelings of African-Americans on the topic. Were I black, I’d likely feel a sense of pride that many of my ancestors laid down their lives to promote a system of government which eventually led to the freest of societies in the history of the world. I’d probably also wish to ensure that people never forget the absolute horrors of slavery. As many of my white friends want us to learn from the positives of the founding of our country, my black friends want to ensure that we truly understand our history so we never repeat the same mistakes.”
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