The Relationship between the Declaration of Independence and Constitution
What are the Declaration of Independence and Constitution? What are their importance, if any? How are they related to one another? Or, are they? These are the issues to be discussed in this brief article.
The reason for declaring independence was that the freedom and equality of the people were being violated. That being the case the people had a right and an obligation to separate themselves from the tyranny of the government they were under.
Declaration of Independence and Constitution – Their Importance
The relationship between the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are like that between a Father and a Mother. Dad lays out what we need, the declaration. Mom tells us how we’re going to do it, a constitution, or structure. These two documents, Declaration of Independence and Constitution, are critical to the founding of America. As critical as they are it is even more important we understand their intent and meaning.
The importance of these two documents is that they need each other. Without the Declaration the Constitution would not exist. We may have another ruling document but it would be a very different document. The Declaration is the foundation upon which the Constitution is built.
Declaration of Independence and Constitution – a Few Relationship Points
In its preamble the Declaration lays out the basic reasons independence is necessary. Here the Declaration speaks to the need for separation and states that the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them” to separate.
The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God are natural rights. The constitution defines these natural rights which are very important. One natural right is the right to property for all people, both the poor and the rich. The poor have the right to acquire property and the rich have the right to keep their property.
The next paragraph in the Declaration opens with this one sentence which is widely known, often quoted and whose meaning has been greatly distorted.
The Declaration reads, “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.”
Truths that are Self-evident
The truths are clear in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Everyone ought to be able to clearly see and understand these truths because they are self-evident.
Unalienable rights, meaning that they cannot be taken away or removed
Rights that cannot be taken away by man because they are given by God. The Constitution lays out procedures to protect these rights that man cannot remove.
All men are created equal
The phrase “all men are created equal” has taken on a new life of its own and is very different from what the founders meant. First, “all men” means all humans. They are all created equal.
Equality has nothing to do with the gender nor does it have anything to do with even physical or material possessions. Rather equality is embedded in our natural rights. These are given to every human by God upon birth.
Founding Father and signer of the Declaration, James Wilson said of equality, “When we say, that all men are equal; we mean not to apply this equality to their virtues, their talents, their dispositions, or their acquirements.”
Natural rights of Life, Liberty, which is Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness
God is the giver of Life and Liberty for example. Liberty is freedom and a natural right. We have the natural right to freedom from coercion from others. Government is to make no law to prevent our freedoms or liberty. We have no natural right to happiness but we do have the natural unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.
The Difference of America
Since all men are created equal no one has the right to rule anyone else. In the case of government we agree to their authority to make and enforce necessary laws. However, when government goes beyond their authority and stops adequate protection of the people’s natural rights, such as freedom and equality, something needs to be done to return to a proper balance.
The difference between the US and many other countries throughout the world is protection. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are a team. The Declaration lays out every human-beings God given unalienable rights. The Constitution protects those rights. These self-evident rights, unalienable rights are protected in America. These natural rights are not protected in a lot of countries around the world. Question: Are they eroding away here in the US from what they were in 1776?
No other country has well thought through founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Our responsibility is to protect their integrity if we are to maintain our greatness.
Declaration of Independence and Constitution – Claimed and Protected
In the Declaration 27 violations of the rights of the colonists by King George III are listed. Natural rights were taken away and grievances were ignored. Those were the reasons for separation from British rule.
The Constitution is a legal document stating how such infractions were to not occur in these new United States of America. The Constitution lays out how these rights are to be protected and enforced.
The Declaration declares we are created equal and have 3 natural unalienable rights: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution, in its Bill of Rights, further protects these and additional rights to; acquiring and possession of property, the free exercise of religion and freedom of the press.
Government’s responsibility is to protect these unalienable rights. Unalienable rights cannot be taken away. They are given by God and therefore cannot be taken away by man or any manmade institution or organization.
The Constitution provides protection in five distinct ways:
- Protection from the infringement of other nations by natural defense – by a military.
- Domestic policy protects people by the establishment of criminal law – by the courts.
- Establishes Civil Law in areas of property, contract, personal injury and the family.
- Moral Foundation based on natural law from God and a virtuous society.
- Minimal provision to the poor with a safety net when family, church or private charity cannot meet the need. This was meant to be a temporary provision only. The government is to help those able to work to get back to work, quickly.
Closing remark re: The Declaration of Independence and Constitution Relationship
The Declaration laid out what was wrong and what needed correction within the rights laid out under natural law. The Constitution is a way to think about how to handle issues, problems within society and crisis. It was never meant to solve all the issues and problems of and for the people. Government is to protect freedoms and equality, and those unalienable rights. Government is not to solve all problems encountered. Government is not to create new unnatural rights.
Minimal regulations were the founder’s primary principles. Both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution speak to that very point. Today we have gone far beyond that approach … to our detriment.
Article: 1st Amendment Definition