Americans are being reminded how fragile and precious an achievement it is to establish the legitimate authority of government through peaceful and free elections. But there would be no ballots without the bullets of 1776. We hold elections in America because, as the Declaration of Independence says, we think “the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed.” But what divided the American people from the British Crown and Parliament in 1776 could not be decided by a vote alone.

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