Declaration Of Independence Today Essay

Declaration Of Independence Today Essay

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     A Latin statement commonly used in the Middle Ages to define the purpose of government reads: servitium propter jura, non potestas praeter jura. This succinct statement translates to mean, “service to and for the sake of rights, not a power exercised beyond or outside of rights.” This age-old definition of what gains a government should work toward, coupled with a belief in the importance of universal rights, provided in essence the backbone of the American Declaration of Independence. However, Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress chose a more contemporary elaboration of what was meant by those succinct Latin words when they endeavored to break the union with England.
Yet few Americans choose to take the opportunity to learn and understand those defining principles that the Founding Fathers laid forth in that first and all-important document. If contemporary Americans were to simply read the words and follow the principles that reside within Declaration of Independence, the nation as a whole might be philosophically aimed in an entirely different direction…the one for which it was first intended.
The Declaration of Independence was written as a means of accusing the English King of wrongs before the world as a jury. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying it was “an appeal to the tribunal of the world.” (Adler 23) But under which law was the King to be accused? Obviously not English law, the very law they were putting down. The laws of an independent and sovereign nation would likewise have ill effect. Jefferson instead chose to use a law John Locke had first proposed called natural law, which had become the very fuel enflaming the colonies. (Munves 13) These are rights believed to be the common property of all individuals, regardless of nationality, and are older indeed than any government.
Therefore, one of the most fundamental misconceptions most Americans have about the Declaration of Independence pertains to the document’s intended audience. Many believe that it was a declaration to England and her King of the colony’s intent to be independent. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was written for a universal audience. The colonies were already well beyond the point of explaining themselves to England, and England was well aware of the grievances that were felt. The first paragraph of the Declaration affirms thi...


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...r. It stands as a definitive work on the subject of government and its role to the people it serves. In addition, it outlines the true duty all men have to themselves and their country. It is the obligation to pursue a good life, the maintenance of his own individual freedom, and the greatest fulfillment of his potential, happiness.
Bibliography


Adler, Mortimer J., and William Gorman. The American Testament. New York:
Praeger, 1975.

The History Channel. 2000. The History Channel. 8 Dec. 2000
<http://www.historychannel.com>

Munves, James. Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence: The
Writing and Editing of the Document that marked the Birth of the United
States of America. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976.

National Archives and Records Administration. 18 Jul. 2000. National Archives and
Records Administration. 6 Dec. 2000 <http://www.nara.gov/exhall/exhibits.html>

Office of the Secretary of State. “Center for research on Vermont.” State of Vermont,
Deb Markowitz. 6 Dec. 2000.
<http://www.sec.state.vt.us/speeches/centervtresearch.htm>

Wills, Gary. Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Garden City:
Doubleday, 1978.

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