Vol. XXI No. 7 — July 1943

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776 — Independence Day for all Americans!

Now we are fighting the greatest war in which this country has ever engaged, again for independence of thought, independence of conscience, independence of religion, independence of every, any, all interferences with that which we know as the American way of life.

Our allies include that country from which the American Colonies claimed independence. The document which made that claim, and for the upholding of which the War of Independence was fought against impossible odds and won because of its inherent justice and the courage of selfless patriots, was directed against the then King of that nation which is now our great ally.

But the England of 1776 and the England of today are as different as is the United States of today and the thirteen Colonies of 1776. No thoughtful Englishman today defends King George for his acts of oppression of the Colonies; no thoughtful American charges the England of today with oppressions and cruelties which belong to the years that are passed.

Our celebration of Independence Day, then, is not in exultation directed at an oppressor, nor is the reading and the reverencing of the Declaration now an indictment of the Mother Country from which we sprang. Rather is our celebration a reaffirmation of our determination to preserve liberties in which England is as vitally concerned as are we; rather is our rereading of and reverence for the document which gave this country birth a rededication to those principles of human rights, human dignity, human worth and the freedom of human conscience for which England fights as desperately as do we.

Every American ought to know Americas immortal document. Most Americans read it, some learned it by heart, in school days. But in our busy modem life, few remember.

That none may plead inability of easy access to the glorious ringing phrases which set forth a new concept of human rights; the Declaration of Independence is here reprinted. Of all citizens, Masons should be the first to open their ears again to its fundamental assertions, for Freemasons were deeply concerned in its writing and Freemasons were dominant, if not predominant, in its signing.

History has a way of repeating itself; the pattern of tyrannies seem to have changed little with the years. The Dictators of Europe, especially Hitler, might well be the object of many if not all the charges made against the King of England in 1776. Especially might Denmark, Holland, Norway, Belgium and Poland write to Hitler almost every one of the damning paragraphs which the thirteen Colonies addressed to King George.

But it is not necessary to go into the charges to find their modern counterparts made necessary by the cruel, tyrannical, obscene and unrighteous rule of Hider over the helpless millions he now oppresses.

Freemasons need but read again the Preamble to thrill that so much which Freemasonry holds essential is also fundamental to Americans, to Englishmen, to members of the Fraternity in all conquered countries.

"That all men are created equal.” Freemasons meet upon the level and part upon the square.

“Governments — deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” How else is Freemasonry governed? How else could it be governed? No physical force backs up freemasonry’s laws; no gun enforces them; no jail upholds them.

"Inalienable rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are the very warp and woof of Freemasonry, in whatever country it may exist. Without them it perishes; with them it flourishes.

Whether we agree with those who contend that the signers of the Declaration who were Masons were but fifteen, or with those who believe that of the fifty-six signers, thirty-one (or more!) were Freemasons, unquestionably it was Masonic thinking and Masonic principles, Masonic reverence for Deity and Masonic determination to worship Him according to conscience, Masonic dignity of soul and intent to secure it for all men for all time, that dictated both Preamble and Conclusion.

In this year of terrible struggle in which great nations are fighting with all they have and are, for all they are and have, it is good to recall the words of the Declaration; the ringing, thundering truth that would not down, that echoed and reechoed around the world until there was not a living soul but had heard it; the Declaration of Independence which united thirteen small struggling Colonies into a nation which, under that other immortal document, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, was to make it the greatest, the most prosperous, the freest and the happiest in the world.

With this in mind; with the humble yet proud boast of the influence of Freemasonry and Freemasons in its writing, read again the Declaration of Independence and thrill again, as Freemasons and as Americans, at the expression of the soul of America.

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen
United States of America


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to thy separation.

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; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall soon most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.

Specific Charges against the King

The history of the present Kings of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny aver these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:

He has refused to assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places, unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative Houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and un-acknowl-edged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein, an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated here by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, destruction, and tyranny, already began with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war; in peace, friends.

Conclusion and Declaration

We, Therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

The Masonic Service Association of North America