Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes

The right to revolution does not mean that it is right or good to overthrow any government for any cause. First and most obviously, it would be foolish and wrong to overthrow a government that was performing its proper duty--securing the rights of its citizens. That is true even if the government is not entirely based on the consent of the governed. Second, prudence--or sound judgment of particular circumstances-tells us that people should think long and hard before trying to overthrow any government, however evil. A revolution is a two-edged sword. It throws men back into the state of nature, where extreme passions will be released and violence may become uncontrolled. Like a dangerous drug, it may exacerbate the disease it is designed to cure. Revolution should only be prescribed to the worst sorts of diseases, and only in conditions where the prospect for success is good.

For this reason, the Declaration's teaching does not mean that every country everywhere in the world should overthrow its government if it is not democratic. Democracy is the form of government that conforms best to the principles of just government, but there may be peoples who are currently incapable of self-government, because they have been corrupted by despotism, or for other reasons. During the French Revolution of the 1790s, Gouverneur Morris, a leading author of the U.S. Constitution, predicted that the French, who at that time were in Morris's judgment very deficient in moral self-restraint, would end up not with freedom but with a despotism worse than the one they replaced. The ensuing Terror, and the dictatorship of Napoleon, proved Morris correct.