What Protects Our Freedom

During the mid-1700s, the thirteen colonies along the east coast of North America were under British rule, which was becoming increasingly tyrannical and oppressive during the years leading up to the American Revolution. The British monarchy was suffering through an economic crisis brought about by the massive debt it had incurred during the French and Indian War, and King George III decided to use the colonies to try to get himself out of it. He began to impose exorbitant taxes on the colonists, while also inflicting repressive legislation such as the Quartering Act (where colonists were required to provide free room and board to British troops), and the Intolerable Acts that forced extremely restrictive laws and limited the colonist’s liberties until they were practically nonexistent. This obstruction of liberty galvanized the Founding Fathers, prompting them to form the Continental Congress and to organize a rebellion against British impositions. Tensions continued to rise between the colonists and the British and the inevitable Revolutionary War began. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence, the first of three documents which would come to be known as the Charters of Freedom. With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America was born, established on the principles of freedom and justice that her people were willing to fight and die for. The Constitution of the United States was drafted in 1787 and ratified the following year, becoming the supreme law of the land and defining the limitations, structure, and processes of government. The final of the three charters is the Bill of Rights. Written by James Madison, the Bill of Rights is made up of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. It imparts certain prohibitions of unnecessary government intrusion and it both defines and secures our civil liberties.

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government—lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” –Patrick Henry

“Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.” –Daniel Webster

All three Charters of Freedom can be found here: www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters