As we understand from past installments, the means by which the Declaration of Independence declares sovereignty for America is by the use of a certain set of principles, crafted into a sequence, which constructs a rationale. Essentially, using this technique, the Founders 'reasoned' America was into existence. That America was born a nation among nations is not a simple declaration. It is a logical conclusion. The constructed rationale that reasons America into existence proposes various universal truths, ostensibly Laws of God, which if true, when applied to the circumstances at the time, results in the justufied right of the American people to declare independence, away from the authority of the King of England, and define a new source of authority, that source being the 'good people of the colonies.' But to be clear, those people owned the authority to reclaim their sovereignty from the King of England ONLY by virtue of the particular supporting rationale documented within the Declaration of Independence, agreed and signed in 1776. Other than the reasons offered in the Declaration of Independence, there would be no reason, even today, for America to assume among the powers of the earth those powers to act as a nation among nations.
Key to Lincoln's understanding in all of this is that the Constitution codifies the year 1776, of course implying July 4 of that year, as the date on which the United States of America became 'reasoned into existence.' That fact is on display in the Constitution's Article VII, which "date stamps" its proposed ratification on
the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth (which twelfth year directly references the year 1776, implying July 4).Using this sort of date stamp, one which places its proposed ratification relative to July 4, 1776, the Constitution directly recognize that portion of the Declaration of Independence that serves the primary purpose of underwriting the sovereignty of the United States of America. And so for this reason, that the United States of America was founded in the year 1776, is codified as America's supreme law, just like any other provision of the Constitution. And in so doing, Article VII also accepts the conclusion of rightful American sovereignty in the Declaration of Independence, as Supreme Law as well, that recognition certified by reference.
All that being the case, a meaningful question to consider would be whether any authoritative interpretation of the Constitution might “rightly” deny the preceding portions of the Declaration, the portions which serve collectively as the supporting rationale by which America’s “rightful” sovereignty was originally concluded. Asking this question more generally and with respect to principle, if one might accept the validity of any certain logical conclusion, as the Constitution does, knowing that such a conclusion is expressly dependent upon a particular supporting rationale, which it is, might one at the same time “rightly” deny the validity of the supporting rationale? No, the only legitimate means to “rightly” deny a supporting rationale upon which an accepted logical conclusion expressly depends, would be to discount that original rationale and offer another rationale, one that would as fairly support the same conclusion.
So unless the Constitution offers a new and different rationale, one that would otherwise as fairly support its accepted conclusion of "rightful" American sovereignty, which it does not, the question before us specifically becomes to decide whether any justifiable interpretation of the Constitution may “rightfully” discount that one remaining rationale that serves as the only “rightful” basis for the conclusion of American sovereignty, that one remaining rationale which is offered within the expressions of the Declaration of Independence. The answer again, is simply, no. America must have a reason to exist. America does not exist on its own for no reason. And the only reason or reasons for America's existence are those offered within the Declaration of Independence. That being the case, understanding that the authority of the Constitution itself depends solely upon the “rightful” conclusion of American sovereignty underwritten by the rationale of the Declaration of Independence, any judicial interpretation of the Constitution, which by its terms discounts the Declaration’s rationale, (which incidentally requires among other things that God exists), coincidentally undermines the legitimate authority of the Constitution itself. And if the legitimate authority of the Constitution were undermined by such an interpretation, any constitutional interpretation built upon the premise of a that interpretation would be illegitimate and unauthoritative as well.
And so because the very authority of the Constitution derives directly from the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, one major lesson we can understand is that the Constitution can only be correctly understood when interpreted in the light of that meaning. For this reason, any correct constitutional interpretation must respect, and therefore preserve, the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution therefore must preserve the Declaration of Independence; or if it does not, it loses all legal authority. In Lincoln's terms, to preserve itself, the Constitution must preserve the Declaration of Independence, "the apple of gold preserved in the picture of silver."That the Constitution can be thought of conceptually as the frame around an apple of gold, is no vicarious result, no coincidental by-product of the American founding. No, this relationship is by design. The American Founders could have established their new nation on any particular construct of authority. They could have simply told the King of England that they were tired of his meddling in their affairs and established America as the result of a coup d'état. But they did not. And this intricately woven relationship that exists between the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, is the result of intelligent design. No doubt Thomas Jefferson's overwhelming intelligence and his thorough understanding of the principles at work in the Declaration of Independence were the reasons the Founders chose him to author such a landmark document. Lincoln understood Jefferson's importance, his intelligence and vision, at the 2nd Continental Congress. Of Jefferson, Lincoln wrote
All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.Imagine a young man, such as Thomas Jefferson, being given the task of constructing a rationale that would yield the rightful overthrow of the British Monarchy. Such an individual would have to possess each of the traits to which Lincoln referred--coolness, to keep his head on straight as he labored, forecast, the vision to understand the future consequences of his work, and capacity, the intelligence to perform such a daunting task. So today, we can know that the resulting relationship inherent between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is not a vicarious result, not an accident. No, that relationship was anticipated, and is the product of intelligent design.
Having demonstrated the validity of Lincoln's apple and picture analogy, in the next installment of America IS A Christian Nation, we will delve further into the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and discuss in practical terms, what it means that our Constitution is no stand alone document, rather that it depends on the Declaration of Independence for its own theoretical, and even legal, validity and integrity. And when we are done we will discuss why it is so important that the principles put to pen in the Declaration of Independence be preserved.
And once again, thank you for taking part in this series. Right here is one of the few places, perhaps even the only place, you might ever uncover this information.