On July 4, 2011, we will celebrate the Declaration of Independence approved by the Second Continental Congress representing the thirteen united States of America on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration states in part that: “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. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The men who drafted and approved The Declaration of Independence recognized that “Rights” come from the “Creator,” and the primary purpose of Government formed by the people is to “secure” and protect those Rights. We need to remember that important fact and pass it on to our children and grandchildren. We also need to remember that Amendment X of the Constitution stresses the limited powers of the national government.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
As we celebrate our Independence we should remember those who have sacrificed to maintain our independence. Few have sacrificed more than the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration and declared: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Kathy Davis, President of the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club summarized the lives of the four signers from South Carolina in the club’s June newsletter: The Elephant’s Ear. A portion of her summary follows:
“There were fifty-six men that signed the Declaration of Independence. Four of these men were from South Carolina.
“Edward Rutledge was the youngest signer at the age of 27. He was born to an aristocratic family, educated in law at Oxford and was admitted to the English Bar. He was elected to Congress and left in 1776 to join the defense of his colony and was engaged in several battles. He was called back to Congress in 1779 to fill a vacancy and then left again in 1780 when the British conducted a third invasion of South Carolina. He was captured and held prisoner until July 1781. In 1782 he returned to the state legislature. He became Governor in 1789. He died at age 50 while in office.
“Thomas Lynch, Jr. was also 27 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence. He received his education in England and graduated with honors at Cambridge. As soon as he came back to the States he was politically engaged and commissioned a company commander in the South Carolina Regiment in 1775. He was elected to a seat in the Continental Congress soon after that. He fell ill shortly after signing the Declaration and retired from Congress. He and his wife sailed for the West Indies in 1776 and the ship disappeared.
“Thomas Heyward, Jr. was 30 years old when he signed the Declaration. He received a classical education at home and completed his legal studies in England. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775. He was taken prisoner by the British while in command of a militia force in Charleston. He died at age 62.
“Arthur Middleton was educated in England and graduated from Cambridge. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776. The British captured him when Charleston was overrun in 1781 and held prisoner for more than a year. He died at age 44.”