On Tuesday, July 4th, many Americans will be celebrating Independence Day. But how many Americans really know the real reason or history behind the celebration? Do Americans especially those that represent our bright future, understand that the 4th of July is more than just a barbeque with friends and family and the bright display of fireworks?
When David Shestokas entered a high school a few years back, he was asked to speak about the Constitution. But before he could address the high school students in that auditorium, he realized there were certain gaps in their information.
When he asked these same high school students, simple questions like ‘When was our country founded?” sadly there was no student who could give the correct answer. From there David needed to simplify things. He needed to help these students, representatives of our future, understand the history behind the 4th of July or Independence Day.
Sheshtokas needed to help these students understand, that as Americans, we celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July, as that day represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our great nation – the United States of America.
It’s been a few years since Shestokas was standing in that high school auditorium. Since then, he’s written a few books. One of which, many Conservatives and Americans would like to see in the hands of all students. What a difference in those students’ lives back then in that auditorium, David’s recent book would have made.
It’s called “Creating the Declaration of Independence“.
The principle itself is very simple. It’s divine law. As the book shares in this excerpt,
“The United States was founded as a government that would not have a dictator or king. The United States would not exercise authority over the population throught threat, but through consent.”
Consent requires prerequisites,
” For a government without a dictator or king, benevolent or otherwise, to survive it must have a central philosophy. For a government founded on philosophy to maintain its authority, four things are needed:
- An understanding by the people of the philosophy
- An acceptance by the people of the philosophy
- Conduct by the government consistent with the philosophy
- and finally, consent of the Governed.
The Declaration of Independence Established Natural Law as the Organizing Principle of the United States.
“As announced in the Declaration of Independence, the grounding philosophical, legal and organizing principle of the United States is Natural Law. The announcement was in Jefferson’s statement of law in the complaint against King George. That statement of law contained two propositions. The first proposition of law is found in the very beginning of the book:
“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 Nature’s God entitle them…”
“The second proposition is the 55 words discussed in the introduction of the book, but bear repeating as the emphasis before was not on their legal effect, but their status as a statement of American Creed. Consider now the 55 words as Jefferson’s succinct summary of the central principles of Natural Law in a manner designed to be understood by the American people:
“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.”
The “Creating the Declaration of Independence” goes on to state,
“That the people understood and accepted the philosophy at best demonstrated by the fact that by the end of the Revolution in 1783, there would be 8,000 Americans killed in the battle and 217,000 would serve in the Continental Army. Considering the population was about 2,500,000 in 1776, the equivalent in 2017 would be 1,056,000 killed and 18,644,000 in the service.
“By invoking the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” Jefferson and the Declaration’s 55 other signers committed the new country to a legal standard of freedom to be incorporated into the forms of government that would follow. Ultimately the Constitution would complete the process by obtaining formal “consent of the governed” through the ratification process during the period of 1787-1791. The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791 completed the original Founding process.”
As Shestokas writes,
“Creating the Declaration of Independence” takes you inside the mind of the man who formally proposed American independence, Richard Henry Lee. It also goes inside the mind of the man assigned to justify independence to the nations of the world, the soldiers of the Continental Army, and the American people, Thomas Jefferson. The decisions they made and the actions they took changed the world. This book provides the insight into how they did it and provides an understanding into how lawyers like Jefferson worked.
Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, 12 fought in battles as members of state militias, 5 were captured and imprisoned during the Revolutionary War, 17 lost property as a result of British raids, and 5 lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the redcoats. Like these true patriots, Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson took risks that included the very real prospect of being beheaded.
So as your friends and families gather on the 4th of July for their wonderful barbeques of hot dogs and burgers, and beautiful displays of fireworks, may all Americans, especially our young minds of tomorrow, not overlook the real meaning of the “Declaration of Independence”. May we be thankful for those who risked their lives for the celebration of our great nation’s birthday.
May you always remember key players on the 4th of July especially, RIchard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson. Lee’s Resolution for Independence and the selection of Jefferson to write the Declaration in support of the resolution.
May you also remember the creed for which our nation is founded upon…”We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
This opportunity would not have come to Jefferson, but for Lee who proposed to the 2nd Continental Congress that Britain’s North American colonies declare their independence from the British crown.
Without the Declaration of Independence there is no Constitution.
Shestokas’ book, “Creating the Declaration of Independence” is brilliantly written in simple terms for even the simple minds to understand, including our young students like those back in the auditorirum who couldn’t answer the simple question of ‘Why do we celebrate the 4th of July?”
In a recent interview with WCIU, Shestokas gives a more personal insight into his book:
Shestokas book, “Creating the Declaration of Independence” is a book that should be shared with all Americans who want know how and why the birth of America came about, the story behind the Declaration of Independence, and the real reason why Americans celebrate on July 4th.
So again, this weekend while you are enjoying our nation’s Independence Day, may you also remember Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson and the story behind the Declaration of Independence.
It’s because of these patriots we celebrate Independence Day, the birth of our nation.
May you enjoy a safe 4th of July celebrating our nation’s Independence Day!
God Bless America!
About David Shestokas
David Shestokas earned his B.A. in Political Science from Bradley University in 1975 and his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, cum laude, in June of 1987. In 1986-87 he served on The John Marshall Law Review. He studied law at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
Mr. Shestokas has been admitted to practice law before the Illinois Supreme Court in 1987, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 1988, the Supreme Court of Florida in 2004, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in 2006.
Mr. Shestokas founded the Law Office of David Shestokas in November, 1987. After practicing in areas such as criminal defense, corporate law, real estate, and business financing, he later served as Assistant State’s Attorney for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago, IL, from 1994 to 1998, involved in over 10,000 criminal prosecutions. During that time he also worked on the Felony Review Unit, participating in police investigations and making charging decisions in over 400 felony matters.
In 1992, after the Republic of Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union, Shestokas joined attorneys of Lithuanian heritage from around the world as a member of the First World Congress of Lithuanian Lawyers. The Lithuanian President, government officials, and the Lithuanian Bar worked with that Congress to restore the rule of law and a constitutional government after four generations of Soviet occupation.
Along with volunteering at the Salvation Army providing pro bono legal services for the homeless, David has also given his time at the Quality Life Center to educate at-risk youth about the values ingrained in America’s Founding.
Shesktokas has also collaborated with Dr. Berta Arias, past President of the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education, to produce “Capsulas Informativas Constitucionales”, the first and only book about the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights designed for 36 million Americans who are more comfortable reading in Spanish.