From an newsletter:
I recently came across a neat Web site I’d like to share with you.
It poses a dramatic question:
Would you sign the Declaration of Independence—knowing, as the Founding Fathers did, that doing so would brand you as a traitor and put your life at risk?
Would you pledge—in the words of the Declaration—your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of liberty?
A website maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) gives you a chance to ponder these questions—and actually “sign” a replica of the Declaration.
NARA, a federal agency, describes itself as “America’s national record keeper,” and says its mission is “to ensure ready access to the essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience.”
At NARA’s site, you have the opportunity to actually sign the Declaration of Independence—using a cyber “quill” pen.
You can then print out a copy of the Declaration—with your quill-pen signature alongside the original brave Signers.
I urge you to give this a try.
Sure, it’s fun. But it’s more than that.
I found the experience surprisingly moving. Before you sign, the website asks you to really consider the document you are signing—and to evaluate what risks and commitments you are willing to assume to fight for liberty.
Take the opportunity to consider the wording of this historic document. Jefferson accomplished two vital things in the writing of the Declaration.
First, he stated, in glorious and immortal language, the ideas that are the essence of libertarianism:
“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…”
Second, Jefferson provided a list of specific grievances against King George, in order to justify the forthcoming revolution.
It is sobering to reflect on that list, in the light of recent trends and current events:
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance…”
“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent…”
“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury…”
“For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments…”
Reading the Declaration reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of giants—and that the struggle for liberty they began continues today.
Let’s hope the NARA Web site brings these insights home to millions of people.
You can reach it at: