A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow thes.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. 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. We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, 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; and that 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 Independent States may of right do.
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. They gave the task of writing the document to Jefferson. The Declaration contained 3 sections: a general statement of natural rights theory and the purpose of government; a list of grievances against the British King; and the declaration of independence from England. More than 20 years later, the Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution would contain prohibitions against the government to prevent the same forms of tyranny as were listed as grievances.
Declaration of Independence as an argumentative essay by Patryk Włazik. by Patryk Włazik on Prezi
On July 2, , the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from England. On July 4, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
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John Hancock , President of the Continental Congress, signed it that day. The rest of the Congress signed two months later. By the time the American Revolution took place, the citizens of these colonies were beginning to get tired of the British rule. Rebellion and discontent were rampant.
For those people who see the change in the American government and society a real Revolution, the Revolution is essentially an economic one. The main reason the colonies started rebelling against 'mother England' was the taxation issue. The colonies debated England's legal power to tax them and, furthermore, did not wish to be taxed without representation. This was one of the main causes of the Revolutionary War. The Revenue Act of made the constitutional issue of whether or not the King had the right to tax the thirteen colonies an issue, and this eventually "became an entering wedge in the great dispute that was finally to wrest the American colonies from England" Olsen , 6.
It was the phrase 'taxation without representation' "that was to draw many to the cause of the American patriots against the mother country" 6. The reaction against taxation was often violent and the most powerful and articulate groups in the population rose against the taxation 6. In October of , colonial representatives met on their own initiative for the first time and decided to "mobilize colonial opinion against parliamentary interference in American affairs" 6.
From this point on, events began to reach the point of no return for the colonies. In , the First Continental Congress met and formed an 'Association,' which ended up assuming leadership and spurred new local organizations to end royal authority Olsen, 9. Because of the influence of these Associations, many people joined the movement, and collection of supplies and mobilization of troops began to take place.
The leadership of the Association was able to fan "public opinion into revolutionary ardor" 9. However, not everyone favored the revolutionary movement; this was especially true in areas of mixed ethnic cultures and in those that were untouched by the war. The citizens of the middle colonies were especially unenthusiastic about the revolution Ward , Among those who did support a change in the government structure, not everyone who joined the movement favored violence.
If the Declaration were considered as analogous to a legal declaration or a bill of impeachment, the issue of dispute would not be the status of the law the right of revolution as expressed in the preamble but the facts of the specific case at hand the king's actions to erect a "tyranny" in America. In ordinary usage "fact" had by taken on its current meaning of something that had actually occurred, a truth known by observation, reality rather than supposition or speculation. They are the objective constraints that make the Revolution "necessary.
No one. They have not been gathered, structured, rendered, or in any way contaminated by human agents--least of all by the Continental Congress. They are just being "submitted," direct from experience without the corrupting intervention of any observer or interpreter. But "fact" had yet another connotation in the eighteenth century.
The word derived from the Latin facere, to do. Its earliest meaning in English was "a thing done or performed"--an action or deed. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was used most frequently to denote an evil deed or a crime, a usage still in evidence at the time of the Revolution. In , for example, Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, noted that "accessories after the fact" were "allowed the benefit of clergy in all cases. There is no way to know whether Jefferson and the Congress had this sense of "fact" in mind when they adopted the Declaration. Yet regardless of their intentions, for some eighteenth-century readers "facts" many have had a powerful double-edged meaning when applied to George III's actions toward America.
Although one English critic assailed the Declaration for its "studied confusion in the arrangement" of the grievances against George III, they are not listed in random order but fall into four distinct groups. The second group, consisting of charges , attacks the king for combining with "others" Parliament to subject America to a variety of unconstitutional measures, including taxing the colonists without consent, cutting off their trade with the rest of the world, curtailing their right to trial by jury, and altering their charters.
The third set of charges, numbers , assails the king's violence and cruelty in waging war against his American subjects. They burden him with a litany of venal deeds that is worth quoting in full:. The war grievances are followed by the final charge against the king--that the colonists' "repeated Petitions" for redress of their grievances have produced only "repeated injury. First, the grievances could have been arranged chronologically, as Congress had done in all but one of its former state papers.
Instead they are arranged topically and are listed seriatim, in sixteen successive sentences beginning "He has" or, in the case of one grievance, "He is. The steady, laborious piling up of "facts" without comment takes on the character of a legal indictment, while the repetition of "He has" slows the movement of the text, draws attention to the accumulation of grievances, and accentuates George III's role as the prime conspirator against American liberty. Second, as Thomas Hutchinson complained, the charges were "most wickedly presented to cast reproach upon the King.
It also recalls the denunciation, in Psalms , of "the workers of iniquity. From the revolutionaries' view, however, the primary advantage of the wording of charge 10 was probably its purposeful ambiguity. The "multitude of New Offices" referred to the customs posts that had been created in the s to control colonial smuggling.
The "swarms of Officers" that were purportedly eating out the substance of the colonies' three million people numbered about fifty in the entire continent. But Congress could hardly assail George III as a tyrant for appointing a few dozen men to enforce the laws against smuggling, so it clothed the charge in vague, evocative imagery that gave significance and emotional resonance to what otherwise might have seemed a rather paltry grievance.
Third, although scholars often downplay the war grievances as "the weakest part of the Declaration," they were vital to its rhetorical strategy. They came last partly because they were the most recent of George III's "abuses and usurpations," but also because they constituted the ultimate proof of his plan to reduce the colonies under "absolute despotism.
To some extent, of course, the emotional intensity of the war grievances was a natural outgrowth of their subject. It is hard to write about warfare without using strong language. Moreover, as Jefferson explained a decade later in his famous "Head and Heart" letter to Maria Cosway, for many of the revolutionaries independence was, at bottom, an emotional--or sentimental--issue.
But the emotional pitch of the war grievances was also part of a rhetorical strategy designed to solidify support for independence in those parts of America that had yet to suffer the physical and economic hardships of war. As late as May John Adams lamented that while independence had strong support in New England and the South, it was less secure in the middle colonies, which "have never tasted the bitter Cup; they have never Smarted--and are therefore a little cooler.
In similar fashion, the Declaration of Independence used images of terror to magnify the wickedness of George III, to arouse "the passions and feelings" of readers, and to awaken "from fatal and unmanly slumbers" those Americans who had yet to be directly touched by the ravages of war. Fourth, all of the charges against George III contain a substantial amount of strategic ambiguity.
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While they have a certain specificity in that they refer to actual historical events, they do not identify names, dates, or places. This magnified the seriousness of the grievances by making it seem as if each charge referred not to a particular piece of legislation or to an isolated act in a single colony, but to a violation of the constitution that had been repeated on many occasions throughout America. The ambiguity of the grievances also made them more difficult to refute. In order to build a convincing case against the grievances, defenders of the king had to clarify each charge and what specific act or events it referred to, and then explain why the charge was not true.
Thus it took John Lind, who composed the most sustained British response to the Declaration, pages to answer the charges set forth by the Continental Congress in fewer than two dozen sentences. Although Lind deftly exposed many of the charges to be flimsy at best, his detailed and complex rebuttal did not stand a chance against the Declaration as a propaganda document.
Nor has Lind's work fared much better since While the Declaration continues to command an international audience and has created an indelible popular image of George III as a tyrant, Lind's tract remains a piece of arcana, buried in the dustheap of history. But the British people had proved no more receptive to the Whigs than had the government, and so the Declaration follows the attack on George III by noting that the colonies had also appealed in vain to the people of Great Britain:. Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.
We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. 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.
This is one of the most artfully written sections of the Declaration. The first sentence, beginning "Nor.
America Before the Declaration of Independence
Sentences two through four, containing four successive clauses beginning "We Have. The fifth sentence--"They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity"--contains one of the few metaphors in the Declaration and acquires added force by its simplicity and brevity, which contrast with the greater length and complexity of the preceding sentence. The final sentence unifies the paragraph by returning to the pattern of beginning with "We," and its intricate periodic structure plays off the simple structure of the fifth sentence so as to strengthen the cadence of the entire paragraph.
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