Sovereignty and the 4th of July
The 4th of July is tomorrow and there is no better time to think about an important concept to America’s founding: sovereignty.
Sovereignty is the thread which weaves America’s founding together. It is present in the Declaration of Independence, in which the colonies tell the King (with the world’s most powerful army at the time) he has no authority to rule over them:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people 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…
Sovereignty is the first idea brought forward in the Constitution, despite it being a very different type of document from the Declaration of Independence.
We the people of the United States…
The idea that political power came from the people being governed, and not from those doing the governing, was not common when America was born. De Tocqueville notes in chapter IV in Democracy in America:
In some countries a power exists which, though it is in a degree foreign to the social body, directs it, and forces it to pursue a certain track. In others the ruling force is divided, being partly within and partly without the ranks of the people. But nothing of the kind is to be seen in the United States; [...] All power centres in its bosom; and scarcely an individual is to be met with who would venture to conceive, or still more, to express, the idea of seeking it elsewhere. [...] so feeble and so restricted is the share left to the administration, so little do the authorities forget their popular origin and the power from which they emanate.
So when we celebrate America, its founding documents, and its Founding Fathers over the coming days, let us remember what we are really celebrating, sovereignty, and that we may never lose it.
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