Declaration Of Independence Essay examples
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Rights of the People
A democracy is a system of government controlled by the people, not by one certain group or individual. In the Declaration of Independence it states that “all men are created equal,” an idea which leads to the concept that all citizens should have the same rights, responsibilities, and influence in the governing of their country. In writing the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was trying to break his ties with the harsh and non-democratic rule of the British and begin a new, equal society and government for America.
Democracy is defined as “A system of government in which ultimate political authority is vested in the People.” The Declaration’s…show more content…
He believed that it was time for America to break away from Britain’s rule and become its own nation, which could govern itself. To do this, though, it was necessary to write some sort of document which would state to the world the basic beliefs on which the nation’s new government would be built. This document was the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson felt that Britain was doing nothing but hurting America with unfair rules and all sorts of ridiculous taxes. The colonies and colonists had no rights in determining the very laws which dictated the way they led their lives. The Declaration of Independence was a formal document stating that the people of America were breaking away from Britain and that the American colonies were now “Free and Independent States.”
The Declaration of Independence was the cornerstone of American freedom and equality. By writing this document, the American Colonies could now begin the process of starting a new way of life and a new government. Obviously, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written the concept of “equality” was more limited than it is today. Certainly, all members of colonial America did not share equal status. However the concepts of the Declaration of Independence have evolved more fully over the centuries
The United States Declaration of Independence is an inspirational document that embodies the values that have animated America for more than 240 years. However, there are a number of misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence that continue to shape the way people think about – and make use of – this document down to this very day.
One misconception is that the Declaration of Independence is entirely the work of Thomas Jefferson and represented his specific views. This misconception arose because the document was drafted by Jefferson, who was responsible for much of its text. However, Jefferson’s text went to a committee and was revised substantially from the first draft to the last. The final text bears many of Jefferson’s hallmarks, but it is a product of consensus and compromise.
Therefore, when speaking of the Declaration of Independence, it is more accurate to say that it was written by committee and represented the collective view of the signatories.
Another misconception about the Declaration of Independence is that it is part of American law. We often hear politicians and journalists quote from the Declaration of Independence to make an argument about whether a proposed policy or law is constitutional. For example, it is commonplace to cite “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as though these were constitutional principles that cannot be abridged. In fact, the Declaration of Independence does not hold constitutional authority, and it is not a law. Its principles serve as a mission statement for the United States, but it does not have any governing power when it comes to interpreting the United States Constitution or which policies and laws are allowed under the constitution’s provisions.
A third misconception is that the Declaration of Independence established the United States as a Christian nation. This misconception emerged because the Declaration makes reference to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and also speaks of the “creator” who provides individuals with rights. These references, however, were designed to be purposely ambiguous because the Founders did not want to establish a Christian nation. Indeed, the references specifically to “nature’s” God and to a vaguely defined creator were purposely written to include Deism, the belief system that many of the Founding Fathers subscribed to. Deists believe that God created the universe and established its eternal laws, but that God plays no part in the day to day operation of creation. Consequently, the phrasing used in the Declaration was intended to be as inclusive as possible, representing Deist, Christian, and even non-Christian beliefs, not just one sectarian belief system.
A fourth misconception is that the Declaration made America independent on July 4, 1776.
While the document carries that date, the congressional resolution formally establishing independence was actually approved on July 2, a date that the Founders first thought would be celebrated as America’s true independence day. As John Adams wrote, “I am apt to believe that [July 2] will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” As we all know, the public remembered the date on the declaration rather than the date of the congressional resolution that formally declared independence. Even back then, no one paid much attention to the daily operation of congress.
Incidentally, the representatives of the colonies did not sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, the date when congress approved the final text. John Hancock signed that day, but the other representatives did not add their signatures until August.
Finally, while many people believe that the Declaration of Independence on display at the National Archives in Washington is the original, this is not the case. The handwritten copy of the final draft approved by the Continental Congress was lost or destroyed. What survives is the copied text produced for representatives to add their official signatures to. It is the oldest surviving copy, and the most important because it contains all of the signatures of the men who risked their lives to secure America’s freedom from Great Britain.
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