Do we have the right to overthrow our government?

The Declaration of Independence says that we not only have the right but we also have the duty to alter or abolish any government that does not secure our unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Given that the U.S. was formed by settlers who threw off British government rule, there is also an historic precedent for overthrowing the government.

In Episode 5 of the six part series on America’s founding below, Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Sarah Burns explains that the message of the Declaration of Independence is that we – as a free people – have the right to stand up to an oppressive government.

This was – and in many cases still is – a radical idea. But it is based on the philosophy that people have rights that no government can grant or deny.

According to John Locke, the fountainhead of this philosophy: There is no difference between an unjust government and a thief. Just like we are right to fight off a thief, we are right to fight off an oppressive government.

What do you think about this argument? Leave your comments below.

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