When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one P[eople 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.
These words, which were penned by Thomas Jefferson, are the most profound concerning the nature of man’s existence. The opening phrase is not a taunt toward a king or citizens of another country. It is not a case of merely being eloquent prose contained within a document whose ultimate outcome would be war. No, these words emphatically proclaim that the natural state of man’s existence is freedom from the bonds of other men.
The words that began the text of the Declaration of Independence represent the application of a philosophical realization, its origins traced back to someone as distant as Aristotle and influenced by the Revolution by thinkers such as John Locke. It was the culmination of hundreds of years of political thought and literally thousands of years of man’s experience with government and religion. The Declaration of Independence was the first occasion in the history of the world where the application of a philosophy led to the establishment of a nation and the governing of men, and some would argue that it was the crowning moment to the Age of Enlightenment. The jewel to the crown would be placed some thirteen years later with the ratification of the United States Constitution, but even that document was a compromise on the philosophy. When the notion of the vision of the Founding Fathers is talked about, it is clearly in reference more to the antecedents of the Constitution as illustrated in the opening quote above from the Declaration of Independence.
The Price of Sin (A Commentary on Liberty), p.13