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John Chuckman

COMMENT

 

The Declaration of Independence, while having some good opening lines, is on the whole a pretty tedious thing to read, a special pleading of great length.

The opening lines were written by Jefferson in draft but edited significantly by Franklin.

The document would have been even more tedious than it is (after the opening) had it not been for the Continental Congress’s extensive effort at reducing Jefferson’s verbiage, an act which appalled Jefferson.

The part of the Declaration which is most annoying, and laughable, is Jefferson’s effort to put the slave trade as a terrible British crime, an amusing effort “to have your cake and eat it too.”

Well, Economics 101 tells you need demand, not just supply, to have a market.

What the grand hypocrite, Jefferson, was doing here is expressing concern over the falling price of human flesh. He owned over 200 slaves (and freed not one at his death) and new supplies were reducing his stock’s value.

The document is only regarded for the opening words, but even those words aroused great cynicism as when the great Dr. Samuel Johnson dismissed “drivers of Negroes talking of freedom.”

After the opening words, we have a long list of silliness, which in some ways today resembles what you might expect as a list of grievances against white males from BLM or a radical feminist professional protester.

It really is that silly in what it tries to blame on Whitehall, especially when we have the words of contemporary visitors from Europe telling us how free the early colonies seemed compared to many places.

The slave-trade stuff was the topper though. It reminds me of America, as the world’s greatest arms exporter whining about this or that place that just having sold a small quantity of arms somewhere.

There’s junk about taxes, too, although we know, again from contemporary visitors, the colonists were not heavily taxed by standards of the day. Of course, Americans still hate taxes and portray that hatred almost as something from Scripture, always forgetting taxes are essential to good government anywhere, and I think we all know America today has anything but good government.

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