Matthew Continetti reviews Larry P. Arnn's The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It in the Claremont Review of Books:
In 1766, King George III, ruler of an empire that stretched across the globe, wrote an earnest letter to his son. Allowing that he might lack "superior abilities," the monarch expressed the hope that "all unprejudiced persons will be convinced that whenever I have failed it has been from the head, not the heart." He meant well, in other words.
His good intentions and humility did not matter a decade later, however, when his American colonies rebelled. The proximate cause of the rupture was the burdensome duties and taxes the king and his ministers had imposed on them. But the revolt was about more than economics. What incensed the members of the Second Continental Congress was that his majesty's government ruled without the Americans' consent, and had ordered soldiers and mercenaries to the continent to enforce its arbitrary decrees.
The king's abuses, the Congress said, had left the colonists no choice other than to exercise their natural right of revolution. They would, accordingly, take up arms to assume the "separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" entitled them.
That was the message of the Declaration of Independence. Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, argues in The Founders' Key that the Declaration cannot be understood in isolation. The Continental Congress not only proclaimed the rights of man, but also conveyed the essential attributes of the government necessary to secure those rights.