Mandeville, LA – Laura and Carrie knew the Declaration by heart, of course, but it gave them a solemn, glorious feeling to hear the words. They took hold of hands and stood listening in the solemnly listening crowd. The Stars and Stripes were fluttering bright against the thin, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the Song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America’s king. She thought: Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.
Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. “Our Father’s God, author of Liberty—” The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God’s law is the only law that gives you a right to be free. – Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on The Prairie