Is America’s Declaration of Independence illegal?

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Funeral yesterday went well. Today we’re off to see my grandmother before beginning our trip back to Ohio.

Quick post before we leave the hotel — Came across this BBC article that I thought was interesting: “Is the US Declaration of Independence illegal?”  Apparently, it was an Inn of Court “exhibition match” between American lawyers and British Barristers (guess which position each side took!).  And, of course, there’s nothing at stake, given that the independence of the U.S. is, at this point, a fait accompli. 🙂

The BBC article summarizes the thrust of each side’s main argument.  Check it out and feel free to leave your thoughts, an I hope that anyone else out there like us still on their way home from the Feast are having a safe trip!

12 thoughts on “Is America’s Declaration of Independence illegal?

  1. Michael O'Byrne

    A very interesting topic to debate! I would think certainly illegal just as the 1916 Irish rebellion was – and the latter was even a more blatant act of treason under the terms of British law. Whilst the Americans had no recourse to representation in parliament the Irish had such recourse and it is possible, evenm probable, that a better result would have resulted in time for the island of Ireland as a whole and the country would more than likely still be part of the British Commonwealth and have a monarch as head of state. But isn’t there a biblical precedent for both rebellions in that both peoples rose against those whom God had placed, or permitted, to rule over them? Sopposedly because of his sinful sons the people rose against Samuel and demanded they have a king rule them just like the surrounding nations, but God told Samuel they were not rejecting Samuel, but were doing so with God? As an Irish person from the Irish Republic and from a family that is comfortable with the current state of affairs – Ireland being independent from Great Britain and having its own head of state in a president elected by the people, I beg to differ with the outcome. I believe we should have stayed within the British Commonwealth and have the British monarch as head of state. However that is a moot point. But I think independence has been a disaster for all on this island and, just like all countries, we’ve never had right government. That can only come with the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.

  2. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Beati possidentesThe happy who possess. (possession is nine points of the law) (Euripides)

  3. Yeah, it was illegal. It just happened one side was able to exert the amount of persuasive force required to change legality over that piece of geography. The French and Russian revolutions were illegal before they happened, as well. And everything that’s happened in Germany post-1945’s been illegal by 1932-1945 laws in Germany.

  4. Robert McMinn

    The question is: illegal according to what law? Here, both the Americans and British are being hypocritical. The Americans claim that they are legal under “natural law,” but then claim government can only be by the consent of the people. Well, a “people” is a collection of many individuals with varying consciences, and it is anything but “natural” for different consciences to consent to each others consciences. “…for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?” (1 Corinthians 10:29).

    The British claim “There is no legal principle then or now to allow a group of citizens to establish their own laws because they want to.” But that’s exactly what the British (and others) continue to do, not acknowledging the First Law establishing legal principle from the beginning (Genesis 1:1).

    The answer is: neither the British nor the Americans have had the desire to adequately follow TRUE law. They have instead engineered their own laws such that they can follow the dictates of their collective, and respective, hearts. Haven’t both committed treason against their first citizenship as nations to God?

    Debates such as this one (regarding the role of governments to provide human rights) may be academically stimulating if they weren’t so sad; sad because they are never resolved; never resolved because we all “naturally” want to follow the law of our own individual hearts, and typically the liberty of one natural man is tyranny to another.

  5. Steve

    Good comments by everybody. Yeah, the Declaration of Independence was technically illegal under British law. Thing was, Britain was milking America as a cash cow while denying full rights of citizenship to them. In the meantime, America had simply become too big to be treated as a mere appendage of the Britain. History worked out the way it did.

  6. Steve

    And note that the Americans did make attempts to rectify the situation. It was only after the rebuffs and the punishing regulations (teach those colonists a lesson) that the Declaration of Independence was written. It became a “Israel to you tents” situation.

  7. Wade Brown

    Good comments by everyone, and to add to the discussion…God had a plan since the Biblical patriarch Abraham’s days that would include America (Manasseh) gaining independence from Britain (Ephraim) to form a great nation. The secular world can debate all that they want on the matter. America’s separation from Britain had been a foregone conclusion for thousands of years. Interesting debate nonetheless.

  8. Norbert

    From the BBC article, they make one point, ” …to ‘self-evident truths’, that is to say truths for which no evidence could be provided.”

    It would be a fair observation to see what is self-evident to one person may not necessarily be self-evident to another person, even to the point of having two opposite conclusions on the issue in question. This does make me wonder how self-evident are truths? Or do people just choose their own truth because it is conveniently consumed for their own purpose?

  9. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    The “self-evident truths” cited by Thomas Jefferson were things commonly acknowledged even by British and Continental intellectuals in his day (according to everything I’ve heard to date) and included “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It is specious for the British to point out that there is no evidence for these truths. Axioms by definition need no evidence; they simply are. One sorts our their truth value by Occam’s Razor: by whether they lead to the simplest and most complete explanation of the facts at hand. That’s what makes them “self-evident”.

    But even such self-evident axioms can be denied by those (such as some barristers, it seems) who refuse to follow where even positive evidence leads, let alone where Occam’s Razor leads. The existence of God is something God (through Occam’s Razor applied to all the evidence there is) has revealed to everyone who has asked the right questions (Paul says as much); yet there are plenty of atheists in the world, whose philosophy reminds me rather of a squalling baby who refuses to admit he’s lying in his own mess and also refuses to ask for help about the situation. Talk about a self-refuting philosophy in that case…

    But I’m not here to argue about atheism or for my fellow Americans. I tend to think that here is a classic example of God working through human beings despite themselves, if necessary. And even so, the approach of our Founding Fathers had its flaws, not least the fatal flaw of trying to establish a nation on Christian ethics apart from Christian government. They rightly tried to avoid tyranny (however defined by them) as said tyranny was based on a false concept of the divine right of kings. They wrongly concluded that there could be no such thing (or at least that they could create no such thing) as a proper kind of theocratic monarchy, which has all the advantages of input from the people that a republic has and none of the political bear traps inherent in a republic.

  10. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    I forgot to say that in the film 1776, Benjamin Franklin is made to say something to the effect that rebellion is only illegal in the third person, as “their rebellion”; when it’s “our rebellion” it’s perfectly legal. 😀 I suspect that’s based on some actual statement he made, perhaps as “Poor Richard”.

  11. Steve

    I think Mr Wheeler made some excellent comments. There is indeed such a thing as “natural law” (although the term itself isn’t quite accurate). For example, even atheists get upset when they discover that their house has been robbed. And everybody agrees that everything from embezzling to child abuse is wrong. In modern terms, we would call it “common sense” rather than “natural law.” The American colonists simply got tired of Britain rigging the game, and they revolted.

    Now, I have a different point of view from Mr. Wheeler concerning the Founding Founders and their ‘failure’ to establish a Christian government (based on a theocratic monarchy?), however. That was tried in the OT, and we all know how that worked out. If God had wanted the true Church of God to rule the United States as a theocratic monarchy, then it would’ve happened.

    None of this absolves modern Israel from the promises to Abraham, or the blessings and punishments that came along with it. Over a thousand years ago, a king named Alfred the Great established a system of judges over war torn England. He ordered them to base their decisions on the Bible. Today, we call that record of judgements “English common law.” It became the mainstay of law throughout the English speaking world as it spread around the globe.

    English common law is very different from the legal system followed in continental Europe. Most European nations follow some form of the Napoleonic code, which is a grandchild of the old Roman legal system. The two legal systems and laws are tangibly different from one another.

    Sadly, the English common law and the attendant biblical principles have been steadily eroded, even destroyed by, both congressional legislation and circuit court appeals. Consequently, I happen to believe that modern Israel will come under punishment – not because the Founding Fathers failed to produce a theocratic monarchy – but because we failed to uphold the tenets of God’s law so long ago.

    Sorry. I’ll get off my soap box now.

  12. Thanks for everyone’s comments! And, Steve, while I won’t defend the full extent of Mr. Wheeler’s comments, which I’m sure he’d be willing to do himself, I will say that your words taken to their logical limits would risk our concluding that the real sin in America has been our abandoning the principles established by the Founding Fathers, which is false. Regardless of how one believes the government of America should have been set up, the essential point that John made about the Founding Fathers hoping to have a nation of Christian Morals without Christian Government is–again, in essence–completely correct. However, I note that Christian Government without the real Jesus Christ at the head is not possible, and such a government the Founding Fathers, in their ignorance and Satan-enforced spiritual stupor, could not have instituted. One of the battle cries during the American Revolution may indeed have been “No King but Jesus!” but therein lies the seeds of the American experiment’s failure: Everyone’s “Jesus” is different.

    To say that we have to return to the ideals of the Founding Fathers in order to save America is to make the mistake of failing to realize that we are here were are are now as a result of the government they created; in a way, part of their “ideals” involved the freedom to come to this point — the freedom to be such a nation. Some of them (Madison?) observed that they were creating a nation that would only work if it were populated in the most part by a people who governed themselves under the Ten Commandments. The lesson of ancient Israel should have taught them that this was not going to happen. (And, of course, which of the Founding Fathers tell us to keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days?)

    Not that I am saying that you are claiming we should return to the ideals of the Founding Fathers to save America, Steve; rather, some would use that line of thinking to make such a statement. Actually, all man-instituted forms of government over this 6000-year instructive experiment are going to fail, so that formed by the Founding Fathers was destined to eventually be consumed by its own faults, as well. The manner in which the candle they lit has burned over its lifetime, though, can be very instructive: burning so relatively briefly compared to others before going out, to be sure, but burning so brightly during that brief period, as well.

    Thanks for the observations!

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