It is a mistake to believe the American Revolution is in the past. To dismiss its fervor, to marginalize its relevance, to permit thinning of its blood invites the cowards and bullies of history in the front door. It is a mistake to allow those who hate America to abscond with the goodwill and fire attached to the term "revolutionary." In this essay I proffer the American Revolution as contemporary, vital and aptly called upon, explicitly; you will read the terms Revolutionary and Counter-Revolutionary. They refer to the only real revolution of ideas, the one upheaval that revolted against enslavment of minds and bodies on principle -- The American Revolution.
The Foundation Principle
The three excerpts below, taken together, are for the purpose of this essay considered to elucidate the "Foundation Principle" of the Revolution. It is upon this Principle that the United States of American rests.
"We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; That all men are created equal and independent, That from that equal creation they derive rights Inherent and inalienable, among which are the Preservation of life and liberty, and The pursuit of happiness."
Thomas Jefferson, Draft for the Declaration
"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."
Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
"That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
George Mason, The Virginia Declaration of Rights
In the winter of 1997 I received a shock. I was jolted by television. One can be stunned because a show is too imbecilic, too violent or too crude. Such insults I had suffered on occasion, true. But on February 18, 1997 I was caught unawares by a show that delivered a scene of such betrayal, such cynical deceit that I was lifted out of my chair, flung half-way across the room and left raging against what I had just witnessed. I could have sworn my hair was standing on end.
The voltage was administered by Ken Burns's documentary-style television series Thomas Jefferson. The agent of discharge was Professor Joseph J. Ellis, American historian. The scene in the documentary that enraged me was that depicitng the writing of the Declaration of Independence, ravaged by the comments of Professor Ellis.
My intent in this essay is to illuminate the documentary's assault on The Foundation Principle of the Revolution, which it accomplishes through misrepresentation by Joseph Ellis of the Enlightenment concept "created equal." I also supply the Revolutionary interpretation shamefully missing from the documentary.
Occasionally we who live by Jefferson's words must draw the line. Some transgressions can be neither forgiven nor ignored. My hair may have been frazzled in anger that night, but I have regained my composure. This does not mean, however, that I do not have lightning bolts in my pocket.
PART ONE: confronts Professor Joseph Ellis on his dishonorable attack on "created equal." PART TWO: is a presentation of what Jefferson actually meant by the phrase "created equal." PART THREE: argues that "equality of opportunity," a supposed compromise between the poles of this conflict, is a null position. Author's Afterward: What is the proper state of man? The unbounded.