If causing trouble was the goal of the Founding Fathers in 1776, attacking the notion that rulers derived their authority to govern from the Divine Right of Kings was certainly the way to go.
The ruling establishments of the most powerful nations on Earth pushed the idea that their kings were chosen directly by God and that their authority, therefore, could not be questioned, nor could the people hold their kings accountable for their actions. Kings, as alleged representatives of God, therefore, were not subject to any earthly authority, certainly not to the people or even the aristocracy of their kingdoms. They were, in a very real sense, above the laws of man and answerable only to God, Himself.
Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the other trouble makers in America had a different view, however. They believed that rulers gained their legitimacy from the consent of the governed and from Natural Law, a system of laws of morality, derived from the natural order of things to which all humans are ethically bound
“No public document gives more prominence to the idea of natural law, nor relies more crucially upon natural law as a premise, than the Declaration of Independence,” wrote Dr. James R. Stoner, Jr., professor and head of the political science department at Louisiana State University. He cites, as an example, the most famous passage from the Declaration:
“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; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem more likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
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