Declaring our independence

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Friday, July 9, 2010

The July 3 front-page article on Thomas Jefferson's editing of the Declaration of Independence ["With the stroke of a pen, 'subjects' no more"] asserted that the change from "subjects" to "citizens" means that "No longer subjects to the crown, the colonists became something different: a people whose allegiance was to one another, not to a faraway monarch."

That is actually a fundamental misunderstanding of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration does not assert that our rights come from a contract with one another. The Declaration explicitly affirms that our rights come from our Creator and are unalienable. Ironically, the article stated precisely the historic falsehood that is the basis of the modern judicial effort to create a secular America. This secular interpretation is simply historically false, and the facts are profoundly different. This distinction is at the heart of Abraham Lincoln's emphasis on the Declaration of Independence in arguing against slavery.

If our rights come from God then sovereignty is personal and we the people lend power to the government. That is the most radical recentering of power in human history. It is the heart of American exceptionalism.

Newt Gingrich, McLean

The writer was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999.

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I found it ironic and hypocritical that Thomas Jefferson scratched out the word "subjects" in the Declaration of Independence, no doubt because he (and the other Founding Fathers) did not want to be seen as subjects to the monarch of England. Jefferson and the Founders did not want to be "bound" to England at the same time they were holding other humans in chattel bondage. The headline on the continuation of the story on Page A12 referred to "an unshackled citizenry." Did the headline writer know that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington each shackled slaves?

Ronnie Johnson, Temple Hills


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