“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and [certain] inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...” - Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.
Two hundred and thirty six years on from the Declaration of Independence, political engagement is still a necessity for the masses. Widespread civil rights movements are rising all over the world, in many guises – the Arab Spring, Anonymous, Los Indignados, Greece, the movement against precarity in Portugal – and Jefferson’s writings can once again remind us that inspired words can bind a nation together, catalysing an extraordinary revolution.
This collection of writings by Jefferson – compiled by Michael Hardt - offers a broad reading, with the inclusion of a debate around the Declaration and Jefferson’s correspondence with prominent political figures of the time. Hardt also includes Jefferson’s controversial writings on race, exposing a contradiction in an otherwise progressive mind, a fundamental flaw that afflicts American society and history.
On this 4th of July, when many states have ruled out the possibility of fireworks due to the recession, let Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence inspire us to future revolutions.
Happy 4th of July!
Read the full Declaration of Independence.