A big deal
It wasn’t a legal document. The legal separation between great Britain and the colonies had already occurred when the delegates in 1776 voted affirmatively July 2 on Richard Henry Lee’s motion that the colonies were free.
(Twelve of the 13 colonies voted in favor. The 13th, New York, abstained. New York did later vote in favor, making it unanimous.)
So is the Declaration really a Big Deal? A bigger deal that anyone could have imagined. Thomas Jefferson’s words transcended their situation, creator, their century, even their country. They are for all times and places.
Ironically, one of the people who understood that the best was a man not normally remembered for eloquence, in fact not even remembered for speech at all.
It wasn’t an accident that President Calvin Coolidge’s nickname was “Silent Cal.”
But on July 4, 1926, on the occasion of the Declaration’s 150th birthday, Coolidge uttered these remarkable words:
If all men are created equal, that is final.
If all men are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final.
If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.
Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary.
Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Wow. Maybe Silent Cal kept his mouth shut for so long until he had something really worth saying.—M.B.