The Declaration of Independence Explain the basic ideas contained in the Declaration.
The committee of five: • Benjamin Franklin • John Adams • Roger Sherman • Robert R. Livingston Thomas Jefferson: selected to write the draft of the Declaration.
The Declaration was an important statement in the development of our constitutional government. It is also an excellent example of the arguments of the natural rights philosophy. Natural rights: Life, Liberty, and property
It contains several important parts. • Ideals • Arguments • Complaints • Conclusion
Ideals of the Declaration: It is one of the best statements of the ideals of our nation. It states that all men are created equal and that they all have certain basic rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout our history, many people have worked hard to make these ideals a reality for everyone.
“We hold these Truths to be self evident (easy for anyone to see), that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed (given) by their Creator (God) with certain unalienable Rights (basic or natural rights that cannot be taken away), that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness---- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted (established) among Men, deriving (receiving) their just Powers from the Consent (agreement) of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends (purposes), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”
Arguments of the Declaration: The Declaration was a justification for the American Revolution. Jefferson used the ideas of the natural rights philosophy in this argument. 1. The rights of the people are based on natural law. Natural law is a higher law than laws made by people. Neither constitutions nor governments may violate the natural law. The only rightful purpose of government is to protect the people’s natural rights.
2. If a government violates the natural law, the people have the right to change or abolish the government and form a new one. 3. An agreement existed between the colonists and the king. The colonists consented to be governed by the king so long as he protected their rights to life, liberty, and property. 4. No agreement had been made between the colonists and Parliament. So Parliament had no right to govern the colonies or to tax them.
5. The king had violated his agreement with the colonists by acting with Parliament to deprive them of their rights. Therefore, the colonists had the right to withdraw their consent to be governed by the king. They were free to establish their own government.
Complaints against the King: The Declaration contains a long list of complaints against the British king.