The Declaration of Independence
Length: 702 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence for the American colonists to proclaim freedom from Great Britain's oppressor, King George III. American colonists had been suffering for many years when this important document was drafted. King George III had pushed the colonists into a state of tyranny and most decided it was time to start an independent nation under a different type of government. Jefferson focused his piece toward many audiences. He wanted not only King George III and the British Parliament to know the American's feelings, but also the entire world. The time had come for an immense change amongst the American colonists and Jefferson made sure everyone was aware of it by using his superior strategies of persuasion.
The Declaration of Independence is focused for the most part toward King George III and the British Parliament. Jefferson wanted them to understand the reasoning behind the American's decision of independence. From paragraphs 6-32 he lists all the acts of tyranny that King George III forced upon the Americans. The list is longer than all the other parts of the document put together. It demonstrates how much emphasis Jefferson placed on providing reasons. But, this list is not only directed at Jefferson, it is a reminder to all Americans and the whole world of what disturbing times have been overcome in the past.
Jefferson used two main strategies in convincing his audience. First, as I have already mentioned, he uses factual evidence to support his claim. The list of cruel acts is his factual evidence. The amount of details that make up this list shows how much importance Jefferson placed on factual evidence as support. If he had used fewer facts here, the document might not have fully explained why the Americans demanded independence. Second, Jefferson exercised appeal to values in supporting his argument. He wanted others to feel the pain and suffering that has haunted the Americans and share similar morals. In paragraph five he says, "Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies" (17). Here he tries to evoke the sense of feeling. He assumes the reader will feel this pain and agree that King George III is wrong for his actions. He then goes on to say, "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of injuries and unsurpations, all having in direct object the exact establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States" (17).
Again, he uses words that have a direct effect on the morals of the reader. "Injuries and unsurpations" should make the reader feel this pain that was felt by the Americans. Overall, the facts and mood of the document aid the persuasion of Jefferson's point.
The point of the Declaration of Independence is clearly stated in the first paragraph. Instead of quoting the entire paragraph I am going to break it down into the parts that express the point most visibly. Jefferson states, "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another" (16). Here he is explaining that there is a need for separation between Great Britain and the American territory. He then says, "A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation" (16). Here he gives the reason for the division; in the opinions of mankind, life has become unbearable. The point of this historical piece is simply to announce independence for the Americans from the British for reasons of past tyranny.
In conclusion, the Declaration of Independence is one of the single most important documents in the history of the United States. I place it on a pedestal next to the constitution as far as significance goes. In this document, Jefferson did an outstanding job of persuading all humanity that it was time for the American colonists to prevail against Great Britain. He used critical facts about past irony to make his audience feel the grief of the colonists. Since the separation of these two great nations, Jefferson has always been acknowledged for his achievements and he will always be remembered in history as the author of the Declaration of Independence.