With improved transportation and communication, groups became nations and leaders became inaccessible to their people. Those in remote colonies might be treated not as full citizens, but as resources to be exploited. The power of a ruler could no longer be restrained. Power without restrain is tyranny.
Hard thinking through the 18th Century resulted in a coherent libertarian political theory. Americans declared their independence from tyranny with a clear and ringing libertarian statement.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that:
- Everyone is equal (a difficult concept for some policemen).
- Everyone has rights, including rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- Governments are instituted with the sole responsibility of securing these rights.
- Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the people.
- When a government fails its responsibility, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.
- The history of the King is one of repeated injuries, having in object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the states.
- Therefore, these colonies are free and independent states.
The signers mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Many of them did lose their lives.
Some of the important points in the Declaration of Independence are:
- People are not “subjects” of the government; the government is subject to the people.
- The role of government should be limited to protecting the rights of the people.
- The people may choose to abolish government entirely.
Creating an actual government consistent with these libertarian principles has been difficult. There were still slaves, and only some men could vote. However, partial adherence to these principles has largely avoided tyranny and produced a society with much individual freedom. People from throughout the world have sought to live in such a society.