American Revolution was caused by the political abuse of power, rather than by a pure striving toward national independence

What does Freedom mean Anyway?

By Daniel Greenfield Thursday, July 2, 2009

With the 4th of July coming up, it is easy to get distracted by all the flag waving, the tricolor banners and the emphasis on national independence, to forget that the American Revolution was caused by the political abuse of power, rather than by a pure striving toward national independence. Rather than an independence movement on the grounds of national identity, the American Revolution saw British citizens revolting against incursions on their rights and freedoms by a distant and powerful government.

The 4th of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, not a military victory that marked the end of British rule such as the Battle of Yorktown or the anniversary of the beginning of American government with the United States Constitution or Washington’s inauguration-- all of which would seem to be legitimate dates as well. Instead it commemorates a document which created no specific governmental authority, but instead lays out as its key doctrine, freedom.

The Declaration of Independence argues that rights are natural, and do not require a divinely appointed intercessor between man and G-d, in the form of a monarch. It states that the people of the United States do not derive their laws from being the subjects of a king, but from natural rights inherent in every human being, and that above all else they have the right to live, to be free and to pursue the course of their lives as they see fit.

This was a bold statement to make in a time when government received its authority from tradition and held its people as subjects, when church and state were intertwined so that the state held religious and even divine authority. The Declaration of Independence rejected the sanctity of government, instead putting forward the idea that government is nothing more than the consensual agreement of people as a tool for maintaining their affairs.

In a few short words what the 4th of July marks is a document that stated that henceforth in America, the people would not be creature of their government, but the government would be a creature of the people. The Declaration of Independence was not simply a declaration of national independence or the independence of the thirteen states-- it was a declaration of individual independence. It stated that not only did each American have rights and freedoms independent of any government, but that the government was his to make or unmake.

And yet the average American of 2009 is far more a creature of the government, than a colonial of 1769 ever was.

Thanks to the tattered remains of the Constitution the American of 2009 has managed to maintain some key political freedoms that his counterpart in 1769 did not have, but for all that his life is a tightly regimented and heavily taxed affair, overseen by a distant central government and its â€