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American History

The Declaration of Independence

“The Declaration of Independence” was the document drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and ratified in 1776 by The Continental Congress, that formally announced the secession of the colonies from Great Britain. The document outlined all of the injustices and inequalities the colonies faced as a whole under the reign of King George, and launched the beginning of the American Revolution.

The Preamble, an introduction to the Declaration, outlines two major points. First and foremost, asserts that people have the right to get rid of their respective government and set up their own. Thomas Jefferson was no fool however, and knew his audience was not just the King of England, but also the world’s stage. Jefferson specifically outlined that this right to a coup must be justified by a good reason. By justifying the war to all the worlds’ powerful nations, namely France, the colonies had a much larger chance of assistance, which was ultimately critical in their victory. The end of the document, especially the conclusion, served this same purpose.

The body of the Declaration essentially outlines the case the Colonists’ had against the British King, including a list of grievances. Major points included taxation, Britain’s standing army in the colonies, deprivation of trial by jury, and a direct call to King George for ignoring peaceful plea’s. In addition, Jefferson charges the King of “waging war” on the colonies; perhaps he anticipated the War to come.

While drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson drew from various schools of thought and historical documents for inspiration. It is well known that Jefferson was a follower of John Locke, an Enlightenment political theorist. In addition to Locke’s ideas, the other major influence on Jefferson was England’s own “Bill of Rights”. Passed in the late 17th century to topple James II, another tyrannical British King, this circumstance seems to hold true to the old proverb that history really does repeat itself. The Declaration of Independence formally introduced a young United States to the world, ready to fight for their freedom.