Written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776
The Declaration of Independence was a statement to King George III of Great Britian explaining that the colonies were seeking their independence and the reasons why.
Made up of three sections:
Preamble: Establishes the rights of men as well as the roll of government. Jefferson claims "all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights." Chief among these rights are "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Body: A list of 27 injustices endured by the colonies due to laws enacted by King George III and the parliament of Great Britain. Some of these injustices being taxation without representation, seizure of colony ships at sea, and not allowing the colonies to self-govern themselves. It also states the efforts the colonists went to in order to find solutions to these injustices.
Conclusion: Official establishes the independence of the colonies from Great Britain.
Several events led to the creation of the Declaration of Independence
- Stamp Act, 1765- required colonists to pay a tax on all printed paper such legal documents and newspapers
- The Boston Massacre, March 5,1770, death of five colonists
- The Boston Tea Party, reaction to the Townshend Acts of 1767
- British troops present in the colonies during peace time
Jefferson and the colonists were making radical statements. Two statements in particular stand out for their stance against the crown, "all men are created equal" and "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Both statements are in contrast with the British Monarchy and style of government. All men being equal meant even the king was the same level as his subjects. By stating a government derives its power from the consent of the govern, challenged the sovereignty and the right of King George III to rule over the colonies. The colonies were instituting a government that would lead by the people instead of monarchy claiming authority to rule. Many nations around the world were ruled by monarchies. The colonies refused to accept this form of government, instead trusting the people to govern.
- Jefferson, Thomas. (1776). Declaration of Independence. Declaration of Independence: A Transcription. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript
- The Tea Act and Tea Parties. U.S. History: Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://www.ushistory.org/us/9f.asp
- Townshend Acts. Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Townshend-Acts