UNI TED STATES OF AMER I CA
You may know the pledge’s words by heart, but have you thought about their meaning? How did the U.S. become the land of “Liberty and Justice for all”? The answer lies in our country’s founding documents.
Land of Liberty
Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness
In 1776, through the Declaration of Independence, the United States declared its freedom from the British kingdom. In this document, our country’s founders bravely asserted that people have inherent rights, including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Eleven years later, in 1787, our country’s founders wrote the Constitution, laying the foundation for a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Indeed, the first three words of the Constitution are “We the People.” This new system of government had never been tried before. Our country’s founders sought to protect the rights of individuals by dividing the federal government’s power into three branches — legislative (Congress), executive (president) and judicial (courts). This separation of powers ensured that checks and balances were in place so no one branch gained too much power. FREEDOM FACT The U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest written constitution of any major government in the world. Its principles — including the rule of law, separation of powers and recognition of individual rights — serve as a model for governance around the world.
lib•er•ty 1: the quality or state of being free: a. freedom from arbitrary or despotic control b. the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” The Pledge of Allegiance is a statement of loyalty to our country, the United States of America. Members of Congress say it together before congressional sessions begin and it’s often recited at the start of the school day.
The Founders on Freedom
The Founders on Freedom
PATR I CK HENRY
THOMAS J EFFERSON
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned that [the] people preserve the spirit of resistance?”
“Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”
“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
4 | USA: LAND OF L I BERTY
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