The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of American history. It has been included among one of the most important documents ever to be written in the history of the United States of America. We refer to it still today as we recall the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The following summary of the Declaration of Independence will briefly describe its content.
Although the declaration is not officially divided into sections, it is commonly referred to in five distinct parts; the Introduction, the Preamble, the Indictment of King George III, the Denunciation of the British people, and the Conclusion.
The Introduction of the Declaration of Independence refers to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitling the people to assume any type of political independence. The introduction also acknowledges that the reason for independence must be of reasonable terms. The Declaration therefore must be concise and explained thoroughly.
The Preamble contains probably the most famous lines of the Declaration, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”? The Preamble states that there are certain unalienable rights that government should never violate. Those rights include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Should those rights be violated and the government fails to protect them, the people have the right to protect those rights themselves by overthrowing the government.
The Indictment begins by stating the suffering of the American colonies and the feeling of absolute constraint in forming a new system of government. The Indictment also refers to the numerous and repeated injuries that King George III placed upon the colonies and then go on to include factual information as to the many things that King George III had committed.
The King is accused of twenty seven specific abuses; interfering with colonists’ rights to self government and a fair judicial system; instituting legislation that affected colonies without their consent, increasing taxes on colonists; requirement to quarter British soldiers; right to trial by jury; preventing them from trading freely, for example. Also, the King had refused to protect the borders of the colonies thus resulting in the destruction of American life and property. These are among the twenty seven accusations the colonists made in direct relation with King George the III in the Indictment portion of the Declaration of Independence.
The Denunciation portion of the Declaration of Independence basically covers and finishes their case for separating from England in the hopes for a peaceful resolution, but with the clear understanding that war is almost inevitable. This section of the Declaration also notes the attempts that had been made to peacefully work things out as many of the Americans still felt that England was their brother and had appealed to more prominent people among the British. Still to their utter disappointment and their requests the colonies remained ignored and unsuccessful.
In conclusion, the representatives of the United States of America and the people of the colonies had seen existent conditions that required a change in government structure and policy. The conclusion states 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.”? The conclusion of the Declaration also contains the core of Lee’s Resolution that had been passed on July 2.
A summary of the Declaration of Independence will always take something away from the true words written by Thomas Jefferson, but will give you an idea of what the declaration is about.
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Filed Under: History
Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Meaning and InterpretationThomas Jefferson's The Declaration of Independence is a world famous political manifesto in which Jefferson revolutionary vision is expressed, related to natural human rights, the birth of government and the functions of the government. The declaration of independence was not written as essay in the beginning, it was a political speech delivered by Jefferson in the meeting of the continental congress and later it was printed as an essay.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
In this writing, Jefferson describes about the law of nature and says that nature has created all men equal and freedom is the blessing of all human beings.
In other words, he says that naturally, all men are created equal and all have the natural rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The right of life, the right of protecting life, right of liberty, is the right of enjoying freedom and the right of happiness means the right of searching happiness to everyone. In Jefferson’s opinion all of us have such rights that are given by nature so these rights are also called unalienable rights of the people. For the protection or preservation of such unalienable rights, individuals make consent of forming an organization, which is the formation of the government.
He says that to protect life, liberty and happiness people make an agreement among themselves and they form a government, which would preserve their rights. This concept of government discussed by Jefferson is similar with the product of social contract theory. What Jefferson further says that government can be autocratic or despotic, and it may not become the preserver or protector of human rights. If a government does not become the preserver of these means, if it becomes despotic, people have their right to abolish such government and form another government. They have also becomes despotic. Primarily the government should preserve the inalienable human rights which is the primary or basic function of government. The secondary function of the government is that it should establish diplomatic relationship with other states or cut off the existing relationships. Jefferson believes on the supreme power of people and he believes on revolutions. He thinks that the revolution of the people can abolish the despotic government and they can form the true preserver of human rights. So this concept is also called Jefferson’s revolutionary vision.
After making this theory about unalienable human rights and the functions of the British colonial government in America under the kingship of George III, this government is criticized by Jefferson in different ways. For example, it was the despotic government and it was not formed by the consent of the people, it did not represent the people. It did not protect or preserve the inalienable rights of the people. Instead of giving protection of life, the colonial government destroyed the life of the people, it suppressed the people and it seized the happiness of the people. This government had destroyed the ports in America, people were levied heavy taxation, the economic source of the people were exploited, machinery was hired to operate the people and false closed laws were registered against the American people, who did not support the government of George III. Similarly, Jefferson also criticizes the colonial government, which has also dismissed the senates, the representatives of the people, the judges of the courts, and it caused communal war between black and white Americans. Based on so many despotic activities of this government, he declares that America should get independence of colonial government and requested American people to revolt against the colony. As a result, thirteen American states declared independence in 1776 and one after another all the American states got independence so that the colonial government was abolished and America got independence. Since then Jefferson has became an independent democratic leader who has become the III president of America and the leader of Democratic Party in America.