Essay About The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in American history. It led to the Revolutionary war and the Americans gaining their independence. However, there is a lot more in the document than the Americans just simply declaring they were going to break away from Britain. The document has three main sections with its own purpose and meaning: The first section stating America’s philosophy, the second section with a list of the American’s grievances, and the third section stating the colonies were now independent. The committee of writers not only wanted to declare the Americans were splitting from Britain but also set down some ideas and beliefs for our soon to come government. This committee of writers consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman.
The first section consists of the first and second paragraphs. In these paragraphs, the Americans started with an introduction and stated their philosophy. Much of their philosophy is influenced by the Enlightenment years of the 17th and 18th centuries, where we adopted many ideas from English philosopher, John Locke. The committee starts the introduction of the document by stating that it is necessary that the Americans break away from Britain. They wrote, “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another.” Following this, the committee affirms that we possess certain rights. These are the rights of the committee derived from the writings of John Locke. The committee writes in the declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This means that all individuals are born equal and have certain God-given rights. You’re unable to give up your natural rights, even if you want too. The writers thought these rights to be obviously true, so they did not defend them. They go one to state ideas of the social contract that America will now be run the American people themselves, and that we have the right to rebel against Britain. The declaration states, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”
The second section focuses on a twenty-seven specific set of grievances against Britain and the king. The committee wrote these to prove that Britain has lost their right to rule by consent. One of the grievances was, “for imposing taxes on us without our consent.” This was written because of the acts Britain placed on the colonies, like the Stamp Act or Tea Act. The writers also added an economic grievance, “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.” They wrote this against the British trade policy. The policy was supposed to make the colonies dependent on Britain. Therefore, Britain did not allow the colonies to trade with any other nation. The last grievance I will explain is, “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.’ After the French and Indian War, the British soldiers did not return to Britain. Instead they stayed in the colonies, where the Americans were required by law to quarter the troops. The soldiers had no real reason to stay in the colonies with the war over. However, Britain kept them there even without the consent of the colonies. Every grievance listed in the Declaration of Independence is a reason why the Americans wanted to break away from Britain. After the listed grievances, the committee writes, “We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” This tells us that this was not the first time the Americans have made petitions for these grievances. They made a humble request that Britain would change their laws, but Britain just denied their request.
The third section consists of the last two paragraphs. One of the statements in the paragraphs states, “We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.” The committee is telling Britain that they are now considered enemies by the people of the colonies. The last paragraph concludes that the document will serve as a record, that the Americans want complete separation from Britain. The committee writes, “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved. This tells us that all connections between the colonies and Britain are ended. The colonies are now independent and govern themselves. The committee goes on to write that the colonies now have powers and responsibilities: Going to war, negotiating peace, and forming alliances. The declaration states, “as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which the Independent States may of right do.”
Last, the committee concludes the Declaration of Independence saying, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” The committee references God in this statement, saying they are trusting in him to protect them. This statement also shows us that the signers of the Declaration fully support the document. They are willing to put their life, money and honor on the line to gain their independence.