Before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, Sam West included the following phrase in a sermon at Dartmouth, “When a people find themselves oppressed by a parent state, they have an undoubted right to throw off the yoke of the oppressive state.”
When Jefferson was quoted as saying “It is the [people’s] indispensable duty to throw off the yoke of oppression,” he said, “I only put down on paper the popularly held view of the time.”
The patriots were fond of saying, “resistance to Tyranny is obedience to God.” Another preacher in the colonies said, before the Declaration of Independence was written, “The man who refuses to assert his right to liberty, property and life is guilty of the worst kind of rebellion. He commits high treason against God and is a betrayer of generations yet unborn.”
So the knowledge that God alone grants rights to people, not the government, was wide spread. This was not revolutionary, but the accepted truth. When Adams said, “Our constitution is designed for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate for any other,” he meant that as a lasting truth, not a dated message.