The 4th of July in America is a time of barbecues, fireworks, watermelons, swimming, and the red, white, and blue.
Most Americans know that this summer celebration marks the anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence, but is there anything more to this 240-year-old document than the freedom of “Merica”?
The Founding Fathers did not necessarily expect the King of Great Britain to read the Declaration of Independence and immediately grant America her freedom. In fact, the Declaration guaranteed that the Revolutionary War would continue. But it did not matter that the King of England was not listening to the Declaration of Independence because the King of Heaven was.
The most famous lines of the Declaration begin by recognizing God as the giver of human rights: “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.”
A sentence earlier Jefferson writes of the, “separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle [people].” Without doubt, the Declaration bases the foundation of human rights in God.
By the end of the document, this preparatory acknowledgement of God turns to a prayer for God’s blessing and support upon the new nation: “…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, [we], in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…”
The Founding Fathers’ closing sentence again appeals to God: “…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
More than an announcement to Great Britain of America’s independence, the Declaration is also a prayer of petition to God. One of the first and most important documents in American history is a prayer of independence.
To read the entirety of the Declaration of Independence or even download high-resolution images, visit www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.