The Declaration of Independence

An Analysis of the Historical Background of Drafting

The Declaration of Independence
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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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??”??” the Declaration of Independence


In this semester, I have the pleasure to have appreciated one of the greatest works in American literature??”the Declaration of Independence. Since we have had a good understanding of this document, there should be the necessity for us to get to know some historical background information about its drafting and enforcement.

This paper consists of three parts: Drafting of the Declaration, historical background of the Declaration of Independence and appreciation of the Declaration of Independence.

?. Drafting of the Declaration

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee proposed a resolution to the Continental Congress stating that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Four days later Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration embodying the intent of the resolution. The committee pressed on Jefferson the task of writing their report.

On June 28 the committee submitted to Congress “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled.” The Congress passed Lees original resolution on July 2, thus deciding in favor of independence, but took three days to debate and amend the committees draft declaration before approving it.

Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4.

Thomas Jefferson presents in the declaration in brief compass the fundamental premises of American nationhood: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights,” and “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

?. Historical Background of the Declaration of Independence

On May 18th to 19th, 1775, battles had been fought between Massachusetts soldiers and British military forces in the towns of Lexington and Concord. Yet the Independent War had not been declared. Even so, citizen soldiers in each of the thirteen American colonies were ready to fight.
On May 10th, 1775, Delegates to the Second Continental Congress made an attempt to prevent war with Britain. They sent a message to The King of Great Britain, George ?. They asked him to consider their problems and try to find a solution. The king would not even read the message.

Why would the delegates try to prevent war if the people were ready to fight The answer is that most members of the Congress — and most of the colonists — were not yet ready to break away from Britain. They continued to believe they could have greater self-government and still be part of the British Empire. But that was not to be.

On June 14th, 1775, the Congress founded the Continental Army, and appointed George Washington as army commander; Two days later, colonists and British troops fought the first major battle of the American Revolution. It was called the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The American colonists fought several battles against British troops during 1775. Yet the colonies were still not ready to declare war. Then, the following year, the British decided to use Hessian soldiers to fight against the colonists. Hessians were mostly German mercenaries who fought for anyone who paid them. The colonists feared these soldiers and hated Britain for using them.

At about the same time, Thomas Paine published a little document that had a great effect on the citizens of America. He named it, “Common Sense.” It attacked King George, as well as the idea of government by kings. It called for independence. Huge amount copies of “Common Sense” were sold in America and everyone talked about it. As a result, the Continental Congress began to act. It opened American ports to foreign shipping.

The resolution was not approved immediately. Declaring independence was an extremely serious step. Signing such a document would make delegates to the Continental Congress traitors to Britain. They would be killed if captured by the British.

The Declaration of Independence was finally adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4.

?. Appreciation of the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence explained the right of any people to revolt and described the ideas the Americans used to create a new, republican form of government. Jefferson states that all people are equal in the eyes of God. Therefore, governments can exist only by permission of the people they govern. Then it states why the American colonies decided to separate from Britain by listing twenty-seven complaints of the American colonies against the British government. The major ones concerned British taxes on Americans and the presence of British troops in the colonies. Finally it makes clear that the new nation will have no further connections with Great Britain. The new government will reserve the right to levy war, make peace, make alliances with foreign nations, conduct trade, and do anything else that nations do.

The significance of the declarations fundamental principles came to be understood only as American history unfolded. It was the purpose of the declaration to demonstrate that the history of the king was a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. That idea for separation from Great Britain was so strong that it took much evidence to the contrary to persuade people that George III endorsed the oppressive policies of his ministers and favored severe measures against the colonists.

I believe that this historical document is so crucial that can be considered as one milestone in the history of North America.


1. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History
Author: David Armitage
Publisher: ?  Harvard University
Number of Pages: ?  320
Publication Date: ?  2007-01-15
ISBN-10 / ASIN: ?  0674022823
ISBN-13 / EAN: ?  9780674022829
2. The VOA Special English (Broadcast: May 22, 2003)
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