Declaration of Independence

We Hereby Pledge

We Hereby Pledge - July 8, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

The 242nd Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence came and went earlier this month. We all celebrate what we refer to as the “birth of our country” in a variety of ways. What none of us do is take that Declaration as seriously as did the 56 signers who literally risked their lives and their livelihood by placing their signatures on the bottom of the document.

Once again, I beseech you to take the time to read and meditate on what these men said and who they were saying it to.

Contrary to popular belief, the Declaration of Independence was not addressed to King George III, who was the ruling monarch of Great Britain at the time. Neither was it addressed to Lord Frederick North, the 2nd Earl of Guilford, who served as Prime Minister and led Great Britain through most of the American War of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence was not even addressed to Parliament. The colonists had passed that milepost long before July 4, 1776. These patriots boldly declared the new nation’s independence, and the basis upon which that independence was necessary, to what they referred to as “a candid world.” In 21st Century English, the recipients would have likely been termed as “an unbiased world” as the purpose of the document was to convey to the world justifications for their action.

We cannot overemphasize how dangerous the act of signing was. After all, these men were not impoverished. Many of them had become wealthy under the current system and were prosperous. They were lawyers and merchants, physicians and farmers, and at least one printer/scientist by the name of Benjamin Franklin.

Why would 56 men put themselves and their possessions and their families at risk when they were so comfortable in their homes and possessions?

I believe that the answer to that question can be found in the closing words of the document itself. These men believed so strongly in the future of a better life for their neighbors and their children’s neighbors that they took quill in hand and executed a document that we today proudly proclaim as OUR Declaration of Independence.

These men placed their trust in each other and placed the hopes and dreams of their neighbors above their own self-interest. In closing, they wrote, “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.”

Today, our country and our state is divided to the core. Too many of us claim to adhere to the same aspirations as these 56 men. How honest is that claim? How long has it been since we as citizens were willing to “pledge to each other” our Lives? Our Fortunes? Our Sacred Honor?

Instead, we allow 24 hour news stations, on both the right and the left, to feed us full of fear and hate and division. In a land of opportunity, we burden young men and women with unsustainable college debt. In a land of equality, our economic system promotes wage inequality. In a land of scientific advancement, the quality of health care (or even its availability) depends on an individual’s financial status.

One can only wonder if those men who signed the Declaration of Independence would have done so if they had been able to foresee the division and disconnect that has become the norm in Oklahoma and our Country. A good starting point would be to renew our “pledge to each other.”

Questions or comments please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

The New Colossus

The New Colossus - July 2, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

Hamburgers, hotdogs, homemade ice cream, and lots of time with cousins and the nighttime sky filled with fireworks marked my family’s annual celebration of the Declaration of Independence. The celebration was of not just any declaration. The document that was signed at great peril by 56 men from 13 colonies is formally titled, “In Congress, July 4, 1776, the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.”

Most of us can readily recite the opening lines, “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 the 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.”

Unfortunately, by the time we finish the first paragraph or two of that document that we claim means so much to us, we lay it aside and become distracted by some lesser obviation. I urge you this year to read further. You will find that it is not calling for freedom from government. In fact, it sought the institution of a government that would reflect the needs of the colonists and pointed out that the British Crown had ignored earlier pleas to address those needs and had hindered and prevented the colonists from enacting their own laws that were “wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

Unanimously, the thirteen states complained that the Crown was “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither” and “cutting off our trade with all parts of the world.” These and many other abuses compelled these 56 men to have the courage to sign, at great peril, OUR Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, when the people of France, presented a gift, a statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” to be placed in New York Harbor it was fitting that on the tablet that Lady Liberty held was inscribed the date, July 4, 1776 and it became even more fitting that the memorial to the date of the Declaration of Independence and the beacon torch were located in the harbor only a few hundred yards from Ellis Island where twelve million immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families entered the country between 1892 and 1924.

It was during that era, that a young American poet named Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus.” Emma had been born in New York City into a Jewish family who had lived in New York since long before the American Revolution. As comfortable as her family was, she became aware of struggles of others around the world who were oppressed because of their religion and thus unable to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness in the countries where they lived.

Some would say that the promises of this country and the new statute and the beacon of hope that they represented gave Emma inspiration as she penned these words, “Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles” and “From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command…Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Some would say that Emma Lazarus communicated America’s Finest Hour, the reason for our Declaration of Independence. 

Questions or comments please call 405-557-7401 or write David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.