GLEN COVE, NY — In the pre-game show at the 2011
Super Bowl, some prominent people read what was claimed to be the Declaration
of Independence. In fact, they read only the beginning and end, and
they left out the heart of it. Apart from the sheer audacity of this
fraud, their selective omissions seriously misrepresented the central
message of the Declaration.
What they left out was the statement of the reasons the American
colonies declared their independence. The Declaration of Independence
was never intended to be an assertion that all colonies around the
world are entitled at all times to claim independence. Furthermore,
the authors of the Declaration did not intend to state that the colonies
acquired a right to declare their independence from the moment they
received their charters from the various kings of England.
Simply stated, the central message of the Declaration of Independence
was that the British King George III had forfeited the allegiance of
the people of the American colonies because he had acted as the colonists’ enemy;
further, the British Parliament had violated the constitutions of the
American colonies by claiming for itself the rights of these legislative
The Declaration accused George III of refusing to approve and enforce
necessary laws for the good of the colonies and of scheduling meetings
of the colonial legislatures in unusual and inconvenient places for
malicious reasons. It accused him of refusing to call elections of
colonial legislative bodies for such a long time that public safety
was endangered. It accused him of refusing to allow immigration into
colonies, of refusing to create colonial judges, of creating an unnecessary
bureaucracy, of exempting the British army from colonial laws, and
of keeping a standing army in the colonies in peacetime. It accused
him of declaring the colonies outside his protection and making war
against them — plundering, ravaging, burning, sending mercenary armies
to act like barbarians — and of causing insurrections and Indian attacks
to kill colonists of all sexes, ages, and conditions.
The British Parliament was created about 75 years before American
Independence as a Parliament for the United Kingdom, replacing the
English and Scots Parliaments. It did not replace the Virginia House
of Burgesses, the Massachusetts General Court, and the assemblies and
legislative bodies of the other colonies. The Declaration of Independence
accused the British Parliament of trying to usurp the powers of the
colonial legislative bodies and specified many ways in which it has
done so. The first was by cutting off trade between the colonies and
the rest of the world. The second, and probably most important, was
by trying to take the power of taxation away from the colonial legislative
bodies and place it in the British Parliament. It accused the British
Parliament of curtailing the right to trial by jury in the colonies,
trying pretended crimes in the colonies before courts in England, of
arranging for soldiers to be acquitted of crimes by mock trials, and
of quartering British soldiers in private property.
The Declaration of Independence correctly stated that all men have
rights given to them by God, and this part of it was read before the
Super Bowl. So far so good, but it was a great disservice to hide from
the American people the fact that the Declaration listed many instances
when the king and Parliament violated the rights of the colonists.
In addition to the rights given by God, other rights had been given
to the people by English law, by the Royal charters given the colonies,
and by the unwritten constitutions of England and the American colonies.
Most important is that the Declaration documented the fact that the
king forfeited the colonists’ allegiance because he treated the
colonies more like an enemy country than as part of his realm. Deceiving
the American people into seeing American Independence as only a matter
of natural rights and not a more complex matter of violations of natural,
prescriptive, and positive rights was a disservice to the 100,000,000
people watching the game.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2011
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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