When taking the nation’s founding document and the intent of its framers into acount, the modern liberal notion that images of God and other references to Deity are opposed to liberty and should be removed from public buildings is ludicrous at best and treasonous at worst. Feel free to share your own thoughts by in the comments.
Among the controversies generated by the Declaration’s second paragraph two stand out as especially contentious: (1) Thomas Jefferson’s use of “self-evident” to characterize “these truths” expressed in the second paragraph, and (2) the omission of the right to property in the list of inalienable (or unalienable) rights. (1) It would surprise some people to learn how much scholarly attention has been devoted to analyzing what Jefferson meant by “self-evident.” Morton White ( (1996).
He extends the list to include the purpose for which “Governments are instituted among Men,” the doctrine that governments derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed,” and “the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” an unjust government.
It exceeds the limits of credibility to contend that Jefferson viewed these truths to be self-evident….” Jefferson is articulating what Francis Bacon once called “middle axioms,” i.e., propositions that, though not self-evident in themselves, are accepted as axiomatic for the purpose of a particular argument.
As Jefferson put it many years later, the revisions made by Franklin and Adams were “merely verbal” and did not affect the meaning of the text.
Jefferson knew that the Declaration would be read aloud to throngs of people throughout the colonies, so he was writing as much for the ear as for the eye.
The British government’s infringement upon the colonists’ God given rights include preventing the passing of laws that promote the common good, calling legislative assemblies at places designed to prevent colonial leaders from attending, the dissolution of representative bodies of governments, the presence of standing armies in times of peace, the harassment of colonists by British officials, establishing unfair trade laws, denying colonists a fair trial, waging war against the colonies, and the impressment of American sailors into the British Navy.
In addition to the list of grievances, Jefferson and his committee assert that the colonists have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with their treatment and that the British have done nothing about it.
At this stage of composition, before substantial changes were made by Congress, we may safely assume that revisions were made primarily for stylistic reasons.
For example, a phrase in the Rough Draft, “rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness,” became “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”–a definite stylistic improvement without any change of meaning.