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Photo William B. T. Trego / "March to Valley Forge"

The American Revolution proved a people can not only overthrow an existing regime but establish a free, peaceful, and functional government of their own.

By Kevin Portteus, The Federalist, May 19, 2021

Kevin Portteus is the Lawrence Fertig professor of politics and director of American studies at Hillsdale College.

Kevin PortteusAccording to the American Declaration of Independence, people enter into political society for the sake of protecting their inalienable rights, which are otherwise insecure. The question then arises: what can the people do if the government betrays its trust, and violates their rights? The Declaration’s initial answer is “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

The people create the government, but in so doing they do not forfeit their right to vindicate their own rights, even against the very government they created. Thus James Wilson asserted that the “vital principle” of America is “that the supreme or sovereign power of the society resides in the citizens at large; and that, therefore, they always retain the right of abolishing, altering, or amending their constitution.” …

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