• Pt. 1 How The Declaration Of Independence Birthed Our Greatest Civil Rights Movements

    Countering attacks on the Declaration's creation clause.

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    After July 4 this year, I noticed an increase in negative news stories attacking Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence compared to previous years. These attacks are counter to what I know to be true, especially based on my research of the American Revolution and my perspective-taking of American history.

    Awhile back, I gave a speech and wrote an essay about how our greatest civil rights movements were inspired by the Declaration of Independence. I want to share with you what I discovered to help refute the war of lies that is attacking patriotism and our core American ideology.

    Up first is an attack on the Declaration of Independence’s creation clause from, of all places, a military academy, as revealed by Judicial Watch and STARRS, which is an organization of veterans standing against Critical Race Theory/Woke ideology in the military and service academies.

    On July 7, 2023, Judicial Watch announced that it had received “478 pages of records from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), a component of the United States Department of Defense (DoD).”

    The records were the result of a November 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DoD failed to respond to a request for Air Force Academy training material records on Critical Race Theory (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:22-cv-03510)).

    The records showed that Air Force Academy instructional materials included attacks on the American ‘Creation Myth’ of the Declaration of Independence as well as promoted Critical Race Theory, white privilege, and Black Lives Matter. A social studies slide presentation called the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that all men have equal value because their rights come from God the Creator as “a myth.”

    “Another slide discusses the ‘Myth’ of American Peoplehood’ with one bullet claiming: ‘The U.S. too has a creation myth: The Declaration of Independence declares that all men have rights endowed by their Creator; Ideas of social contracts forged in a state of nature.’”

    This assertion is patently false. There is no myth. To say so, is an attack on religious beliefs. I can assure you, from my research of original sources — the writings of the founders and everyday Americans in the 1770s — the creation clause of the Declaration of Independence immediately inspired Americans because it reflected their core religious beliefs. The Declaration gave them hope, which was very real, through these amazing words:

    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.”

    This signature wording still inspires, as former Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently revealed.

    Screenshot, Tucker Carlson.

    Carlson gave his first post-Fox-firing interview to British comedian and podcaster Russell Brand in July 2023. This seasoned American anchor expressed his views on race, which stem from his religious beliefs. These views reflect the creation tenet of the Declaration of Independence.

    My views about race begin with my religious faith, which is not very sophisticated but is sincere. And that begins with the belief, the knowledge, the certainty that God created people, that they are not objects. They’re not machines. They’re not widgets in a bin waiting to be assembled by some company. They’re distinct individuals with distinct souls and they have equal value in the eyes of God,” Carlson said.

    “That doesn’t mean they have equal ability. It doesn’t mean they all look the same. But it means they have equal, inherent value and my politics flow from that belief.”

    After expressing these common, hopeful views, Carlson then described how his belief that people have equal value to God informs his perspective on skin color in modern America.

    “So, the idea that you would reduce people to their race and say, ‘we’re going to treat this person better or worse because of his skin color is repugnant to me.’ and it’s something that I’ve argued against every day that I was at Fox News, I think all of my life. You can’t punish or reward people based on their immutable characteristics because they didn’t choose those characteristics. So, it’s inherently unfair, it’s inherently immoral and I’m totally opposed to it.”

    From the start, the signature creation phrase of the Declaration of Independence inspired Americans of all colors, regions, and ethnicities, as well as both sexes. This series will show you how the Declaration of Independence inspired our greatest civil rights leaders starting with a black man named Prince Hall.

    Prince Hall’s Abolition Petition 1777

    How soon did the Declaration of Independence motivate civil rights activists to take action? Within seven months of July 4, 1776, on January 13, 1777, eight enslaved black men led by Prince Hall petitioned the Massachusetts House of Representatives for their freedom by citing the Declaration’s creation language of unalienable rights.

    The petition of a great number of blacks detained in a state of slavery in the bowels of a free and Christian country humbly showeth that your petitioners apprehend that they have in common with all other men a natural and unalienable right to that freedom which the great parent of the universe hath bestowed equally on all mankind,”[i] they declared.

    Clearly Prince Hall did not believe the creation clause of the Declaration was a myth. It was very real to him, and he knew the religious beliefs of his fellow Bostonians. It was very real to them. Hall saw that slavery was incongruent with their beliefs that men and women were created in God’s image and deserved freedom.

    Prince Hall, Public Domain.

    This 1777 petition expressed their astonishment that abolition “has never been considered.”

    They were correct. Although the first abolitionist pamphlet had been published 77 years earlier in 1700, none of the colonies had abolished slavery because of it. Individuals, such as Phillis Wheatley, had been freed from slavery but no significant public policy had resulted in widespread freedom from slavery. Now that the Declaration had turned the colonies into united states and championed the ideology that rights come from God and not the king, many slaves hoped for change.

    “Every principle from which America has acted in the course of their unhappy difficulties with Great Briton pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your petitioners,” the petition continued.

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    Though Massachusetts did not end slavery in 1777, six years later in 1783, it did. A judge declared that slavery was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts Constitution, which had been written by John Adams. Prince Hall was freed. Similarly, Vermont officially abolished slavery in its 1777 constitution. While slaves were still listed on census records in Vermont, slavery was illegal. Vermont later entered the United States as the 14th state and the first abolitionist state. These states set an example that other states followed, leading to the Civil War.

    As Prince Hall’s petition revealed, Americans eagerly embraced the Declaration’s creation clause and promise, even when that promise was not widely practiced or quickly realized.

    Today, those who call the Declaration’s creation clause a myth are pushing communist propaganda. Yes, it’s a communist agenda. Critical Race Theory's roots come from communists who fled Nazi Germany’s Frankfurt School in the 1930s and settled at Columbia University, where they propagated Critical Theory. By substituting class with race, these radical scholars turned a Marxist ideology that divided people by social class into a method for dividing Americans along racial lines. Today, American institutions are on the front lines of this culture war of lies.

    Fortunately, civil rights leaders in the past were inspired by the Declaration of Independence, as other parts in this series will reveal. Their stories can give us hope for our future despite these recent attacks.


    [i] Jay Rogers, Prince Hall’s Petition to the Massachusetts General Assembly – January 13, 1777, Feb. 19, 2021, accessed Feb. 9, 2022, https://www.forerunner.com/blog/prince-hall-s-petition-to-the-massachusetts-general-assembly-january-13-1777.

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    Jane Hampton Cook

    Jane Hampton Cook is a presidential historian, former White House staffer and author of 10 books, including Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War. Janecook.com.
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    Amy Williams

    Thank you! Please send this article to Ibram Khendi at BU- invite him for a debate- note you will not find him discussing/defending his views in public- he is as unintelligent as he is racist!

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