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Why Celebrate The Fourth Of July?

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July 4 is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of America as a new country in 1776. Today, 246 years later, for many it’s just a fun three-day weekend — a time of cookouts and fireworks.

Or maybe, for some who focus on slavery or other historical crimes, a time for lamenting the founding of America. But for anyone in any country who values freedom, it should be more — a time of contemplation and real celebration.

The Fourth commemorates the founding of America as a new country, not merely a regime or government, but a country founded on a fundamental ideal: the inherent rights of the individual. Individual liberty, the freedom of each person to exercise his or her rights, is the political condition necessary for every individual to flourish, and the fundamental foundation of a peaceful and prosperous society.

The Declaration explicitly explains and justifies this.

“All men” — all people — “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.”

America’s founders understood that governments are merely means to an end, and that end is the freedom of people to build their lives and their societies. The true source of society is the relationships we build with each other — the families, friendships, enterprises, churches and civil organizations — that constitute real society. Kings, commissars, politicians, bureaucrats and academic “experts” cannot engineer these and certainly cannot socially engineer a successful society.

Human beings are not pawns to be pushed around on a ruler’s chessboard, nor putty to be molded by a central planner. We are autonomous agents. Under a system of freedom — freedom of thought, speech, action, and enterprise — where each person’s rights are protected and each is constrained to respect each other’s rights, our relations with others are restricted to those we can mutually agree upon.

This system provides us the freedom and incentive to build better lives for ourselves and those around us. This system of a free civil society, with everyone’s rights protected, fosters maximum human flourishing. It promotes Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness like no other system can.

America was explicitly founded upon these principles 246 years ago. They were not implemented perfectly — most notably it took 89 years to eradicate the crime of slavery — but by pursuing these principles America became the freest, most benevolent and most prosperous country in human history. This should be an inspiration for everyone who values human freedom and human well-being. (For those who don’t value freedom: just leave us alone; you’ll be better off not provoking those of us who do.)

People everywhere should celebrate. It’s not just an American holiday, it’s about the success of a universal set of principles. Each of us should take time, today, to read or re-read the Declaration and to dedicate, or re-dedicate, ourselves to protecting and advancing freedom for all.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of the triumph of freedom, and it should be celebrated by everyone who values freedom, peace and prosperity. Happy Independence Day!

Charles N. Steele is Chairman of the Department of Economics, Business, and Accounting, and Associate Professor of Economics, at Hillsdale College.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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One Comment

  1. I’m not sure when it started but the Democrats and the leftist ideologues have been pretty successful slandering and distorting our history. They have defamed our historical icons, torn down their statues and imprinted the idea that America is little more than a Colonial Empire and the epicenter of Slavery; murdering indigenous people and starting wars along the way. While our history certainly has some horrible scars, our Constitution and Bill of Rights have been the roadmap to our positive evolution and a guiding light to the world for 240 plus years. Real historical truths have been buried. I doubt that many American college graduates would be able to tell you that more than a hundred million innocent people were killed at the hands of their Communist and Socialist Dictators in the 20th Century. More than were killed on all sides in all countries in both World Wars. They don’t give America credit for literally twice saving the world from some of those Dictators or that we didn’t assume complete control of those vanquished enemy states like every other empire in human history.

    As for America being the epicenter of slavery, they certainly wouldn’t be able to tell you that the slaves in America were less than .03 of the world’s slave population which was primarily in the Middle East, India, and South America. At most, there were 300,000 slaves in America and 10 to 14 million worldwide at the same time. Or that most of those slaves were taken out of Africa by Muslims, not Europeans. Or that making slaves out of their conquered enemies was common among all the Indian tribes in the Northern hemisphere and, in fact, in most all civilizations for as long as there is recorded history. Our history has been totally propagandized.

    Now, it seems that they want to replace July 4th, with “Juneteenth” again ignorant of the fact that there would be no Juneteenth without the Declaration of Independence and July 4th. For Democrats, everything is about division and hate. Blatantly false narratives about our history like CRT to divide our country into Oppressors and Victims, lies about “voter suppression” and endless lies about racism and the “greatest threat to our democracy is white supremacism”. It’s past time to take back our country or surely our Republic and the great American experiment will be destroyed forever.

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