The Declaration of Independence: A Closer Look

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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.

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