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.
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 ...
Thus begins the founding document that brought us the independence Americans today are celebrating. In the 243 years since the Declaration of Independence was written and signed by our nation’s Founders, much has been said about the concepts of liberty and freedom. Below are some of our favorites from that realm.
We hope you will consider these words as you celebrate today, and that they help all of us keep in mind the responsibilities our independence brings, both to individuals and a nation.
“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
— John Adams
“Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”
— George Washington
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
— Samuel Adams
“The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American!”
— Patrick Henry
“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
— Harry S. Truman
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
— Justice Louis Brandeis
“Man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”
— Ronald Reagan
“Economic freedom is … an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.”
— Milton Friedman
“The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”
— Woodrow Wilson
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
— Erma Bombeck
“A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works.”
— Bill Vaughan
Our News-Journal family wishes you and yours a safe and joyful Independence Day.