The Declaration of Independence and the American Ethos

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Imagine traveling from the oppression that seeped from the government in Great Britain during the nineteenth century to a foreign land with the hope of living a better life. This life included “Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson, 247). This life would also provide a government that allows the citizens to dictate how they are governed and the people’s opinions are always appreciated. This new government would need to be implemented and a set of ethics would need to be created. This land I am talking about is now considered the United States of America and its foundation for its ethics is the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, is a document that the majority of American’s know about. It is taught to children as early as elementary school. I remember learning about its basics all the way back in second grade when my teacher had the class put on a play about American history. As young as I was I knew the document is important but the thought did not occur to me that it is the basis for American Ethos. This document is so important that it is referenced in presidential speeches, like President William Clinton’s speech “Our New Covenant.”

Clinton’s speech follows the ethos put into place by the Declaration of Independence, but there are areas where the ethos extends farther than the Declaration and areas where past presidents have departed from those ethos.

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...

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...dence. For example, the “inalienable rights Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and their “divine rights.” He also referenced values are added to American ethos that were more relevant to his era. For example, he view that America cares for its youth and. He also boldly depicted ill of past presidents that detach from American ethos. For example, how “Washington has turned American ethics on its head.”

I have always wondered what America would be like if all of our government consistently followed American ethos and made decisions based on the voice of the people instead of their own opinions.

Works Cited

Clinton, William J. "Our New Covenant." Language Matters. Third ed. Southlake: Fountain Head, 2010. 148-58. Print.

Jefferson, Thomas. "The Declaration of Independence." Language Matters. Third ed. Southlake: Fountain Head, 2010. 247-50. Print.

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