Most US citizens would say that the Declaration of Independence is a legal document, a part of the United States’ founding beliefs.
It’s particularly interesting that more than two hundred years after the fact, British lawyers have brought up the issue of the Declaration’s legality. In a convention recently held in Philadelphia, British and American lawyers debated over the issue, bringing history and current events into the argument.
The British claim that the American Revolution was totally illegal from the start. They argue that the Declaration of Independence was not only illegal but also an act of treason against the British government.
One of the major principles in the document, the right of a group of people to rebel under unfair government, was challenged by the British attorneys. They stated that there was no law at the time that would allow such actions.
In fact, said the lawyers, the United States of America herself had refused to let the South secede, showing that she did not hold up the values of the Declaration of Independence even on her own land.
Additionally, the so-called ‘self-evident truths’ of the Declaration of Independence were simply statements with no basis in facts. The claims made to justify the revolution in the Declaration of Independence were trivial and had no support from law.
The writers and signers of the Declaration of Independence were fully aware of the treasonous nature of their actions.
Prominent lawyer Sally O’Neil quotes Benjamin Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” She claimed that this was clearly a testimony of guilt.
The Americans, on the other hand, argue that the Declaration of Independence is legal, and always has been, under the Natural Laws, which state that government exists and operates only at the consent of the people.
The American Lawyers also cited UN actions as proof that the Declaration of Independence is valid. The UN has actively supported recent independence movements such as the Egyptian Rebellion; therefore, if the American Revolution had happened during modern times, the Declaration of Independence would still be legal.
The American lawyers claimed that the Declaration of Independence was in fact a document similar to the Magna Carta and the British Bill of Rights, documents that the British had used to gain more power for their people and Parliament, and deemed fully legal.
Additionally, as one lawyer pointed out, the United States won the war, giving them the right to chose what was legal and what was not in their new country.
The debate audience ended up being the final judge. They voted, and it was determined that the Declaration of Independence was legitimate. Of course, the audience was mostly American and may have been slightly biased.
Is the Declaration of Independence legal? According to our version of the truth, yes. Yes, it is.