On July 2 of the year 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. On July 4, they unanimously approved their method of making this decision known to the world: the Declaration of Independence. (full text here--complete with eagles)
The Declaration is, plain and simple, treason.
But the signers believed they owed allegiance to something greater than kings. Thus, the second paragraph of the Declaration:
We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.---
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,---
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The year before, Alexander Hamilton (at the age of nineteen) had written of the claim such truths have upon us in "The Farmer Refuted":
The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.
The Declaration of Independence is at once an act of rebellion and an act of obedience.* The signers rebelled against a man and the laws of men, but before truth and justice and a duty to their own humanity and that of their countrymen, they fell to their knees and offered up their lives.
Happy Independence Day, and may we ever defend Liberty.
For something a little more light-hearted and downright hilarious, allow me introduce you to Lady History. (Be sure to check out "the captioned adventures of George Washington." Her Yankee Doodle fife solo is also precious.)
*I cannot take credit for this way of describing it. I have had some very good teachers.