Sneak a peek at book 3 of my Grace in Africa trilogy (The Triumph of Grace) and you just may see the appearance of a familiar acquaintance–our country’s Declaration of Independence. One editor made this note in the margin: “Interesting inclusion. Didn’t expect this.”
Only because she didn’t know me “back when.”
The summer I was twelve years old, I was bored. Totally and thoroughly bored stiff. I was tired of playing with my brothers and sisters, tired of doing chores, tired of trying to make the same old things fun. I had long since read every kid’s book in the house more times than I cared to count. In desperation, I turned to the Collier’s Encyclopedia propped up on the second shelf in our livingroom bookcase. Twelve volumes, it was. I had looked at all the pictures many times. And of course I had searched out specific topics. But I had never read the whole set from A to Z. So that’s what I decided to do that particularly boring summer.
I read about aardvarks, bears, cannons, dikes, and many other things I’ve long since forgotten. But I found one thing in there that I’ll never forget. It was The Unanimous Declaration of thirteen states of The United States of America—our country’s Declaration of Independence.
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…
I was transfixed by the words!
…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…
The words were so beautiful they brought tears to my twelve-year-old eyes. When I finished reading it, I read it again. Then again. Then again and again and again. Before summer was over, I could recite it. To this day, the words of the Declaration of Independence move me to tears.
That document reflected an age that was far from perfect. People of color were not considered equal. Neither were women. It is to our shame that vestiges of that descrimination still haunt us to this day. Even so, it was a document that changed the world.
The Triumph of Grace won’t be out until February. (Book 2, The Voyage of Promise, won’t even be out until the end of summer!) But should you read it–and I hope you will!–let me know what you think.
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.
Thomas Jefferson, for the Second Continental Congress