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Book excerpt: “The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III”

From the chapter “The Declaration of Independence” in The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III by Andrew Roberts:

Of all the twenty-eight charges, only two really stand in terms of logic, natural law, chronology or politics — namely, the seventeenth, about imposing taxes without the conomists’ consent, and the twenty-second, about Parliament being ‘invested with power to legislate for us’ — yet those two were so important that they went to the heart of the issue, and justified the whole rebellion on their own. The other twenty-six were a mixture of political propaganda, hypocrisy, hyperbole and ex post facto rationalization, tacked on to the first two paragraphs of superb prose which will justly live for as long as democracy and self government still matter in the world.

The Declaration of Independence is simultaneously grotesquely hypocritical, illogial, mendacious and sublime. As one American historian has put it, the twenty-eight charges are ‘very dull and tiresome and mean nothing much to a modern mind except that one carries away a general impression that the King must have been a horrible monster of tyranny and cruelty against an innocent child-like and loving people’. So Jefferson achieved his end, and has continued to do so every since, especially in the United States where the document has attained the status of Holy Writ.