In What Did the Declaration Declare?, Joseph J. Ellis, an editor for history publications presents various historical perceptions on the analytical conception of this mythic text of American public life. The Declaration of Independence has enjoyed a long and useful career as an expression of "natural rights," providing Americans with an influential statement of their national doctrine. Thomas Jefferson had no reason to believe that he was writing a document that would become so revered throughout the ages. One may confirm the Declaration’s idealistic origins by examining Carl Becker’s enduring argument that the Declaration was an American product of the doctrines of John Locke. The Declaration was composed for a specific purpose. The members of the Continental Congress were more preoccupied with handling pressing military matters and meeting with delegates in the separate colonies, who were busy drafting and debating new state constitutions. This book by Ellis also provides a general, philosophical justification for revolution based on the colonist’s growing feeling of entitlement of Lockean rights. The colonists attitude about rights is illustrated in the statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable 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” (Ellis 15). These words, taken from the Declaration of Independence, are the most influential in our country’s political culture, even today. This document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Today, it is read and analyzed constantly in not just America, but all over the world as well. Granted, it was based on gaining Independence from the British Crown’s rule, but its contents still holds true even today. It gives strength to the “underdog” in society to know even his government believes he is created equal. It puts fear into the soul of any to-be tyrant, letting him know—we will not stand back and allow you to bully us. It also makes it quite clear that if the people do not find solace in the government, if they are bullied and persecuted consistently by this government, then they have the right to overthrow the oppressors and again, start ane... ... middle of paper ... ...e colonists frustration with Britain; it was in actuality a “public confession of treason” which meant death and confiscation of estate for one found guilty (Ellis 104) at that time. If one really thinks about it, the men who signed the Declaration risked loosing the very rights stated in the document. The document stated that their creator had given life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They risked their lives, freedom and property to gain independence from the Crown and to have freedoms of their own. These freedoms included, freedom to run their own country as they saw fit, freedom to live life in the manner they chose, freedom to form their own laws and regulations, and many more. Men, who risked death for treason in writing it, wrote this Declaration, and because of them we all enjoy our freedom and ability to have choices. The document not only played a role in gaining independence from Great Britain, but it played a role in the abolition of slavery, in equal rights for African-Americans and women, and many more. We should all be proud of the Declaration. It is a document the United States formed on and its contents definitely hold true value even today more than ever.
“Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.” Such words scribed by the Revolutionary radical Thomas Paine epitomized the drive behind the American Revolution of the 18th century. For nearly two hundred years, the citizens of the American Colonies had been fastened securely to the wrist of the mother country, England. They had tolerated the tyrannous rule, but not without the simmer of rebellious thoughts. As England piled tax after tax onto their colonies, thoughts of revolution and revolt sprung up in the minds of the colonists and brewed there, waiting for a catalyst to drive them into action. The catalyst ignited on January 10th, 1776 when Thomas Paine published his fiery pamphlet ‘Common Sense’. The 48-page pamphlet presented before the colonists a vision for independence that had never been conceived before. It radically altered the course of the Revolution and would later find itself molding the foundation of America’s government indefinitely.
The start of the American Revolution, described by Edmund Morgan as, “the shot heard around the world,” was the “Americans’ search for principles” (Bender 63). Although the world’s colonies did not necessarily seek independence much like the Americans, the world’s colonies were nonetheless tired of the “administrative tyranny” being carried out by their colonizers (Bender 75). The American Revolution set a new standard in the colonies, proclaiming that the “rights of Englishmen” should and must be the “rights of man,” which established a new set foundation for the universal rights of man (Bender 63). This revolution spread new ideas of democracy for the colonized world, reshaping people’s expectations on how they should be governed. Bender emphasizes America as challenging “the old, imperial social forms and cultural values” and embracing modern individualism” (Bender 74). Bender shapes the American Revolution as a turning point for national governments. The American Revolution commenced a new trend of pushing out the old and introducing new self-reliant systems of government for the former
The character of the United States is illuminated by the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wanted to build a government where people are free and where the government “derives its power from the consent of the governed and it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it” (Jefferson, 247). T...
In 1776, the tyranny of King George III made it necessary for all thirteen colonies to unite, declare independence and to sever political ties between Great Britain. The under-represented people of America needed something strong which showed how colonists need to free of the English rule. The colonists did that by writing a “list of grievances” by stating their reasons for rebelling against Britain’s tyranny. If it wasn’t for Thomas Jefferson’s brilliant idea of creating the Declaration of Independence, who knows how America would have turned out today? However, the real importance of the Declaration of Independence lies not in the purpose for which Jefferson created it, to declare independence from Great Britain, but rather how future generations have interpreted Jefferson’s words. Ultimately, the Declaration of Independence has become a document that has been interpreted to guarantee the basic rights of everyone in America and abroad. Who would have thought that this one document could have created this much of an impact today? The Declaration of Independence still was, and still is, the most important part of America’s history because of its historical influence. The Declaration of Independence is still very relevant – it still plays a significant role in today’s society.
We all know that our Declaration was written to let us know what was happening in our world. It specifically showed us what actions Britain did to us and reassures the people of the United States that these incidents will no longer happen in our country. As our forefathers sat down to write this paper, they kept in mind the good of the nation and knew that we would look upon these words they wrote, forever in the future. But have you ever wondered what a person from the past might think of our Declaration of Independence? Our earlier authors have many of the same ideas the Declaration outlines. Specifically, Epicurus and Aristotle agree with our forefather’s idea of the rights of life, liberty and especially the pursuit of happiness. Another author that agrees with this document is Machiavelli. In his book, “The Prince” he lets us know about his feelings on prudence. If these philosophers were alive today, they would have only positive criticisms about one of the most famous documents of all time.
The authors of the Declaration had seen through both examinations of past events, and by reviewing the current events, that peace with Britain was unattainable. In the years before the Declaration had been written up, efforts at peace had been made by many famous writers, as well as smaller political groups amongst the colonies. Every time a petition for reform or reconciliation would be sent to the King, it was usually mocked by him, or ignored. At the end, the colonists realized that their only option was to become independent of Britain. To state their independence and show which ground their decision had been made on, was clearly shown by the Declaration of Independence.
In “Freedom is Intended as a Challenge,” Naomi Wolf explains that Americans don’t understand the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Wolf develops her idea by fist pointing out that for most of the Americans the Declaration of Independence means life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This leads Americans to interpret the declaration of independence as personal pleasures. However, the Declaration goes beyond of how it is interpreted it today. Naomi Wolf says that the Declaration of Independence is a valuable sword that every American has inherited. In the modern translation of the Declaration, Jefferson alludes that as a society all Americans have the right to be free, but at the same time; he is saying that each member of the society has the responsibility to continue fighting for that freedom “They understood the status of being an American existentially, that it means that one has signed on to fight the permanent revolution. So real patriotism means understanding that the Declaration of Independence charges us categorically and always as Americans to rise up in person against threats to liberty” (Wolf 636). In this quote, Wolf argues that the members of the society must work as a whole to rise up and rebel against the ones to attempt to that freedom. But in order to fight as a whole, Wolf claims that first every American must make a personal commitment to defend their natural right “freedom” and protect the honor of their country even if this implies a personal risk.
There are many important factors in the Declaration of Independence, which enable the foundation of a new government. These range from describing grievances with England, to how government should be run differently, to the first statement of separation. The first step to the foundation of a new government is the uniting of a people in a common goal. Since all people were feeling violated by English soldiers, it was necessary to state these grievances in order to make people aware that they are not alone. When people learned that others felt the same as them emotion was stirred. The Declaration of Independence listed the grievances such as, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” The next important step to the foundation of a new government was to gain peoples ambition by showing how the government would be run if a new party took over. This goal was achieved by stating the rights of man. “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.” This statement made people hopeful and feel kindly toward this new government. The final step in the preparation for a new government was separation from the old government. This was declared twice in the Declaration of Independence. In the beginning, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, driving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and in the end, “that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. In conclusion, the Declaration of Independence was able to motivate people, give them ambition, and made it simple for Americans to take action.
Two Hundred and thirty-seven years ago one of the most masterful documents in history was created, which is The Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence expressed Thomas Jefferson’s along with the fifty-five American colonists’ vision of revolution towards independence, and a new government pronouncing rupture from Great Britain. In the document, Thomas Jefferson, the author, established that if their government fails to protect their inalienable rights to life, pursuit of happiness and liberty the people have the right to eradicate it. The Declaration of Independence was ratified declaring the United States free and independent on July 4th, 1776. This document was evidently very influentially serious and meaningful as all those men promised to, “Mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Thus, the Declaration of Independence was a successful document due to Jefferson appealing most effectively through diction, syntax, literary devices and most importantly rhetoric to justify the renouncement from the British Crown.
Eleven score and nineteen years ago, we became the United States of America after the Continental Congress signed the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. This document would change American history forever by being a factor in America gaining its freedom from Great Britain. This document was the United States’s way of telling Britain we were declaring independence and gave justification as to why they were. The document was written by Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Continental Congress; but it was edited several times by other members of the congress such as Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. The Declaration of Independence had many significant event that led to its creation, arguments that were parallel to other famous documents
The American Revolution was marked by the colonies’ independence from Britain. This separation pronounced a new age marked by a decisive political change in the colonies because of the implementation of the Enlightenment ideals and the continuation of English liberties. However, the American Revolution was considered a conservative movement because it “originated from an effort to preserve the existing liberties of the colonies rather than create new ones” (Strayer, 782). Furthermore, the revolution occurred not on the issue of taxation, but on the issue of representation. The colonists believed autonomy was part of their birthright and as Englishmen along with their economic rights and their “natural rights to life, liberty, and property” (Kramnick, Lockean Liberalism). These two sentiments can be seen in their famous slogan “No taxation without representation”. By challenging their economic interests, their established traditions of local autonomy, and their identity as true Englishmen, the colonists were truly infuriated. Thus the American Revolution didn’t grow out of the social tensions within the colonies but rather from an unexpected effort by the British government to tighten its control over the colonies and ex...
Patriots such as Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty, or give death.” He tried to convince his audience at the Virginia assembly that they can fight the British but it means a call to action and hoping for a nonviolent answer means further subjugation by the British. He believes that together they are powerful. John Locks Second Treatise was further inspiration to what would be the Declaration of Independence and sovereignty from the British. John Locke points out how we are born equal, and as a people we are not to harm other but have the right to protect ourselves. He argues that the government does not have the right to take property without the consent of the body politick. The stamp act was in contradiction to what the people wanted, and it impeded on their rights as a human such as their basic liberties. There were a number of contributing factors such as Thomas Pains arguments that finally led to the Declaration of Independence. Life, liberty and property was revised to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by Thomas Jefferson. “By linking these doctrines of individual liberty, popular sovereignty, and republican government with American independence, Jefferson established them as the defining political values of the new nation.” (Henretta). Although a newly formed nation, America still had to face the British
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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
The Declaration of Independence helped form who our country is today; the Declaration of Independence didn’t exist then we wouldn’t of been an ble to inspire other countries to reform their government or make themselves a new one by fighting a war. For instance, The French Revolutionary War, which took place right after our American Revolutionary War. The French took inspiration from our bravery and the Declaration of Independence to become free from their king. Among them was a French military officer Marquis de Lafayette was an aristocrat that fought in the american revolutionary war and helped us dearly in the fight against Britain then he went home to help France to bring freedom to his people. Marquis de Lafayette hoped that we would
What is the Declaration of Independence? The declaration of independence states that all individuals have inalienable rights, requiring life, liberty, and property, a document by which the thirteen colonies proclaimed their independence from Great Britain. If these rights are not protected, people have the right to abolish the government and institute a new one that is willing to secure those rights and their happiness. The declaration was written by Jefferson when he had the vision that America should be liberal. While liberals wanted to over through the government, conservatives believed that not every person should receive the same privilege, not every person is the same and therefore, not every person should be created equal. America is viewed as a liberal state. Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” This was the strongest reason for the people to bear arms, so that they can be protected from tyranny in the government. People wanted their independence.