July 4, 1776, and the expanding struggle for freedom, some 230 years on

The United States of America is an enduring democracy, born 230 years ago with the Declaration of Independence which we celebrate today.

To understand the history and trajectory of America requires us to look beyond the headlines of today, and recall certain documents that have laid out the country’s higher purposes, and its calling — often but not always fulfilled — to serve as a shining example to the world. The country’s true power lies in the ideals which it embodies, which are now shared by citizens throughout the world.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence, drawing on European ideas of the Enlghtenment, particularly in France, was a harbinger of  the spread of freedom, which has now reached many countries in the world.

Key documents to read in remembrance of this July 4, 2016, include the fowwing:

1. The U.S. Declaration of Indendence (1776)

2. The U.S. Constitution (1989) and the Bill of Rights (1991) containing the first ten amendments.

3. The Gettysburg Address, by Abraham Lincoln (1863)

4. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech (1941)

5. John F. Kennedy’s Speech at American University (1963), following the Cuban Missile Crisis

The river of freedom and democracy has deepened and grown broader over 230 years.  It now represents the aspirations and political goals of citizens in every country, guided by the principles laid down in the United Nations Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1949), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and numerous international human rights treaties to which almost all countries are parties.

We can now say that America’s struggle for freedom, begun 230 years ago, has become one struggle, humanity’s struggle for freedom, a rising chorus with upraised voices from every land.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.