The American Colonies declared independence from Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence 1776. It would be 172 years before the remaining British colonies would begin their exodus from G.B. We can only speculate why we left so much sooner than the others, but the answer probably lies with King George III, the one calling the shots in GB that were so bad as to drive us away at the cost of two wars.

The American Colonies declared independence from Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence 1776. It would be 172 years before the remaining British colonies would begin their exodus from G.B. We can only speculate why we left so much sooner than the others, but the answer probably lies with King George III, the one calling the shots in GB that were so bad as to drive us away at the cost of two wars.

In 1776, GB was a monarchy ruled by a king. The word ‘king’ appears in the Bible 2124 times. It having been 172 years since we had a king, it is likely readers now have only a sketchy idea of its meaning. In general, a ‘king’ in Biblical times was one who ran everything and had no meaningful opposition other than military. [Wealthy persons, aristocrats, typically formed a powerful counterbalancing force in the era before governments were financed by taxes.]

Kings were the supreme power. When Harry Truman suddenly became President of the U.S. upon the death of President Roosevelt, he observed how little power Presidents actually had. That was so because our government was created with internal checks and balances to counter and control precisely all the levers of power kings had in history. The history of kings is not a happy one for subjects. Traditionally, kings were ‘sovereigns’, a synonym for the state meaning the supreme authority. The land kings ruled was the state and the kings owned it all. Few Americans know that only a small percentage of the world’s population is allowed to actually ‘own’ land in what we call fee simple. Much land in free countries is ‘leased’ from the State with rights similar to fee simple.

Hence, the power of ancient kings, Roman Caesars, Russian czars [now oligarchs] was absolute in all aspects of existence. We fuss today about the relationship between church and state in the U.S. and would like to rely on the New Testament to help us resolve the issue. What is there assumes the nation of Israel was ruled by a ‘king’ whose title and nature varied over time but which was absolute in all eras. [Judea and Israel were together ruled by kings for 500 years before 587 B.C..]

Jesus’s fellow citizens exerted zero vertical influence on their kings which accounts for the emphasis in the New Testament on subjects being subservient, willing taxpayers who should volunteer to walk an extra mile carrying a Roman soldier’s pack. It is inappropriate to uncritically accept the Bible’s advice on this subject given the huge difference between their monarchy and our democracy. If citizens own their land and run their government, then they have far different and greater responsibilities than Israel’s citizens two thousand years ago as prisoners in a Roman province whose ‘king’ reported directly to Caesar. As in all biblical exegesis, texts must be put in historical context.

Modern research has established King George III, British sovereign in 1776, suffered from manic depression or bipolar disorder. The guy was seriously mentally ill for a long period of time and committed abuses—some of which are delineated in the Declaration of Independence.

Among his errors listed in the Declaration of Independence are: “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither….cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world…The History of the Present King of Great Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States…..A Prince whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.” [1]

As a king he had the ability to manipulate the justice system e.g., “For protecting them [British troops stationed in the American Colonies] by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States…..For altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.”

The Declaration of Independence was not a protest against government per se but of bad government. There are some with libertarian sympathies who simply don’t like any government constraints like those in Israel “In those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit.” [Judges 21:25] The American Constitution followed and established principles and procedures providing internal checks and balances to prevent the establishment of an absolute ruler or king. It is very inefficient because it was deliberately constructed to prevent the efficiency that can only come from too few and unchecked lawmakers. Kings are efficient in the sense that they can quickly legislate their mere whims without any check or recourse to mitigate their ignorance or vile intent.

Had King George III not been mentally impaired, who knows how much longer the American Colonies might have remained part of the British Empire. There are four references to God in the Declaration of Independence, two by Jefferson and two by Congress which make me think that George’s madness was providential.

[1] The Declaration of Independence.

Bob Allison is a Shawnee resident who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he taught and was Associate to the Director of University Hospitals. He and wife Elaine and he have three children, 11 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He can be contacted at rfallison100@gmail.com.