Word Count: 964 GOVT-2305 E2 (8875)

Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty” (Jefferson on Tyranny). Tyranny has various definitions in the modern dictionaries but two stand out the most for being closely related to Jefferson’s meaning in the Declaration of Independence. Even today, there are countries in the world that are still under the control of a tyrant. Furthermore, even the American people are in fear that their government is abusing their power. There are two suitable definitions for the word tyranny that can be associated with how Thomas Jefferson utilized it in the Declaration of Independence. The initial definition is that “A government in which power is vested in a single ruler” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). King George III situated himself above the colonists, making him superior and the colonists inferior. He completely dictated the lives of the colonies. In addition, he did so by annulling the order of salutary neglect that had governed colonial rule prior to that (Zinn 48). Furthermore, he tried to lessen the influence of parliament by habitually selecting different ministers to implement his decrees (Jacobus 79). This caused political tumult all through Great Britain, and also led to the harsh acts laid down on the colonies intra 1763. The second meaning for tyranny is the “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power” (Dictionary.com). The Declaration of Independence evidently describes the detail of grievances the colonists had endured under British regulation since the time when the French and Indian war ended in 1763. The King of Great Britain is blameworthy of twenty-seven particular abuses. The major abuse being that the king obstructed the colonists’ entitlement to self-government and for a reasonable judicial order. In accordance along with Parliament, the king also enacted legislation that affected the colonies without their approval, such as harsh taxes (Zinn 52). It also entailed them to accommodate British soldiers; their right to trial by jury was withdrawn, and prohibited

them from doing business without restraint (Jacobus 80). Furthermore, the king and Parliament are at fault for the obliteration of the colonies life and possessions by their inability to defend the colonies, their seizure of colonists’ vessels at sea, and their intention to employ foreign mercenaries to battle versus the colonies (81). The twenty-seven complaints explicitly demonstrated how the British privileges of the thirteen colonists had been put in jeopardy under British reign, providing integrity to their line of reasoning that the colonies wanted to be entirely and absolutely free of Great Britain. The term tyranny within the context of the document meant to Thomas Jefferson that King George III has abused his powers over the thirteen colonies. His use of the term tyranny is valid because the two definitions that were presented earlier basically described what King George was and what he did with his power over his people. In spite of the seriousness of bringing down one’s government, Jefferson determinedly held that the terrible cruelty they had tolerated under King George III and the British control swiftly warranted proclaiming the thirteen colonies free from Great Britain (Zinn 56). The historical evidence to support his statements is listed in the Declaration of Independence as the twenty-seven grievances. The list increase with the uttermost impertinent acts, intended at overall restraint of the colonies, which were placed just before the signing of the Declaration (Jacobus 79). The initial twelve and last five of these complaints are associated to the explicit undertakings by the King himself which without a doubt disregarded the British privileges of the colonists (80). Grievances thirteen and up to twenty-two, demonstrate how Parliament supported King George III in neglecting the birthrights of the American populace (81). In the end, the 27 grievances showed many colonists that their king and fellow Englishmen had neglected and disappointed them as the advocates of their civil liberties and independence.

After learning about its historical implications, the meaning of tyranny in modern times has definitely not changed. There are political leaders today who fall under the definition of tyranny. The most notable is Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. Kim Jong-Il has succeeded to totally segregate his realm from the other countries of the world (Romero). His wrongdoings upon his people include: the utilization of prison camps, ordering public killings, and executing infants who have deformities, among other atrocities (McDonald). A lot of civilians, including children, are locked up in labor camps for petty crimes such as hiding food and anti-socialistic acts. His rule remains to be one of humanities most tyrannical. In modern America, the fear of tyranny is relevant because we are still worried that our leaders would abuse their power. This fear that government will abuse their power has come up in countless conspiracy acts. The most predominant being the conspiracy theories of September 11. Six weeks following the September 11 attack, Congress approved the “USA Patriot Act,” a modification of America’s surveillance regulations that greatly extended the government’s power to spy on its own populace (“What is the USA Patriot Web”). The outcome is unobstructed government control to search through people’s financial accounts, medical records, websites visited, books bought, travel arrangements, and phone calls (“USA Patriot Act”). The Founding Fathers deemed the British control in the 1700s a tyrannical system. Indeed, the Founding Fathers addressed this extensively in the Declaration. They were so worried on the subject of tyranny that later on when the constitution was written, an extra effort was taken to ensure America would never come under the control of a tyrant. The most predominant being the system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, some modern countries are currently still ruled by a tyrant, and as long as a tyrant rules, the unfortunate subjects will continue to be oppressed, and the definition will continue to live on.

Works Cited Jacobus, Lee A. "Thomas Jefferson: The Declaration of Independence." A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin's, 2002. 75-81. Print. "Jefferson on Tyranny, Patriots and Liberty . . . « From the Wisdom of Our Founders." From the Wisdom of Our Founders. 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://founderswisdom.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/jefferson-on-tyranny-patriots-andliberty/trackback/>. Mcdonald, Mark. "Kim Jong-il News - The New York Times." Times Topics. 5 Sept. 2010. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/_kim_jong_il/index.html>. Romero, Frances. "Kim Jong Il - TIME." Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.com. 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Sept. 2010. <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1843207,00.html>. "Tyranny - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tyranny>. "Tyranny." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 17 Sep. 2010. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tyranny>. "USA Patriot Act." Welcome To FinCEN.gov. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/index.html>. "What Is the USA Patriot Web." Welcome to the United States Department of Justice. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm>. Zinn, Howard. "Chapter 4: Tyranny Is Tyranny." A People's History of the United States. New York: New, 1997. 47-57. Print.

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