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Writing of Declaration of Independence

Jefferson’s Early Career

❶While the theoretical framework under which the colonials presented the Declaration of Independence is obviously a good one, the ongoing application of that theory has been difficult. If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.

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The Declaration of Independence was an important part in American history. It was written to show a new theory of government, reasons why we were separating from England, and a formal declaration of war. It finally gave the 13 colonies freedom from England's control. The man responsible for writing the Declaration was Thomas Jefferson. He wrote the Declaration between June 11, and June 28, On July 4, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and was signed by a number of congress members.

The Declaration of Independence served three major purposes. The first included the reasons for separation. The engrossed version is the one widely distributed in the 21st century. Note that the opening lines differ between the two versions. The copy of the Declaration that was signed by Congress is known as the engrossed or parchment copy.

It was probably engrossed that is, carefully handwritten by clerk Timothy Matlack. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in , the documents were moved for safekeeping to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox in Kentucky, where they were kept until The document signed by Congress and enshrined in the National Archives is usually regarded as the Declaration of Independence, but historian Julian P.

Boyd argued that the Declaration, like Magna Carta , is not a single document. Boyd considered the printed broadsides ordered by Congress to be official texts, as well. The Declaration was first published as a broadside that was printed the night of July 4 by John Dunlap of Philadelphia. Dunlap printed about broadsides, of which 26 are known to survive. The 26th copy was discovered in The National Archives in England in In , Congress commissioned Mary Katherine Goddard to print a new broadside that listed the signers of the Declaration, unlike the Dunlap broadside.

Several early handwritten copies and drafts of the Declaration have also been preserved. Jefferson kept a four-page draft that late in life he called the "original Rough draught". In , Boyd discovered a fragment of an earlier draft in Jefferson's handwriting.

During the writing process, Jefferson showed the rough draft to Adams and Franklin, and perhaps to other members of the drafting committee, [] who made a few more changes.

Franklin, for example, may have been responsible for changing Jefferson's original phrase "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable" to "We hold these truths to be self-evident".

On April 21, , it was announced that a second engrossed copy had been discovered in the archives at West Sussex County Council in Chichester , England. How it came to be in England is not yet known, but the finders believe that the randomness of the signatures points to an origin with signatory James Wilson , who had argued strongly that the Declaration was made not by the States but by the whole people. The Declaration was given little attention in the years immediately following the American Revolution, having served its original purpose in announcing the independence of the United States.

The act of declaring independence was considered important, whereas the text announcing that act attracted little attention. Many leaders of the French Revolution admired the Declaration of Independence [] but were also interested in the new American state constitutions. The document had a particular impact on the Decembrist revolt and other Russian thinkers. According to historian David Armitage , the Declaration of Independence did prove to be internationally influential, but not as a statement of human rights.

Armitage argued that the Declaration was the first in a new genre of declarations of independence that announced the creation of new states. Other French leaders were directly influenced by the text of the Declaration of Independence itself.

The Manifesto of the Province of Flanders was the first foreign derivation of the Declaration; [] others include the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence , the Liberian Declaration of Independence , the declarations of secession by the Confederate States of America —61 , and the Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence Other countries have used the Declaration as inspiration or have directly copied sections from it.

The Rhodesian declaration of independence , ratified in November , is based on the American one as well; however, it omits the phrases " all men are created equal " and " the consent of the governed ". Declaration of Independence, though it, like the Rhodesian one, omits references to "all men are created equal" and "consent of the governed". Interest in the Declaration was revived in the s with the emergence of the United States's first political parties.

Federalists insisted that Congress's act of declaring independence, in which Federalist John Adams had played a major role, was more important than the document announcing it. A less partisan appreciation for the Declaration emerged in the years following the War of , thanks to a growing American nationalism and a renewed interest in the history of the Revolution.

When interest in the Declaration was revived, the sections that were most important in were no longer relevant: But the second paragraph was applicable long after the war had ended, with its talk of self-evident truths and unalienable rights. John Trumbull 's painting Declaration of Independence has played a significant role in popular conceptions of the Declaration of Independence.

The painting is byfoot 3. It is sometimes described as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but it actually shows the Committee of Five presenting their draft of the Declaration to the Second Continental Congress on June 28, , and not the signing of the document, which took place later.

Trumbull painted the figures from life whenever possible, but some had died and images could not be located; hence, the painting does not include all the signers of the Declaration. One figure had participated in the drafting but did not sign the final document; another refused to sign.

In fact, the membership of the Second Continental Congress changed as time passed, and the figures in the painting were never in the same room at the same time. It is, however, an accurate depiction of the room in Independence Hall , the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Trumbull's painting has been depicted multiple times on U. A few years later, the steel engraving used in printing the bank notes was used to produce a cent stamp, issued as part of the Pictorial Issue. An engraving of the signing scene has been featured on the reverse side of the United States two-dollar bill since The apparent contradiction between the claim that "all men are created equal" and the existence of American slavery attracted comment when the Declaration was first published.

As mentioned above, Jefferson had included a paragraph in his initial draft that strongly indicted Great Britain's role in the slave trade, but this was deleted from the final version. In the 19th century, the Declaration took on a special significance for the abolitionist movement.

Historian Bertram Wyatt-Brown wrote that "abolitionists tended to interpret the Declaration of Independence as a theological as well as a political document".

Garrison called for the destruction of the government under the Constitution, and the creation of a new state dedicated to the principles of the Declaration. The controversial question of whether to add additional slave states to the United States coincided with the growing stature of the Declaration.

The first major public debate about slavery and the Declaration took place during the Missouri controversy of to With the antislavery movement gaining momentum, defenders of slavery such as John Randolph and John C.

Calhoun found it necessary to argue that the Declaration's assertion that "all men are created equal" was false, or at least that it did not apply to black people. Chase and Benjamin Wade , defended the Declaration and what they saw as its antislavery principles. The Declaration's relationship to slavery was taken up in by Abraham Lincoln , a little-known former Congressman who idolized the Founding Fathers.

In his October Peoria speech , Lincoln said:. Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a "sacred right of self-government". Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it.

The meaning of the Declaration was a recurring topic in the famed debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in Douglas argued that the phrase "all men are created equal" in the Declaration referred to white men only.

The purpose of the Declaration, he said, had simply been to justify the independence of the United States, and not to proclaim the equality of any "inferior or degraded race". I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects.

They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal—equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all, constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, everywhere.

According to Pauline Maier, Douglas's interpretation was more historically accurate, but Lincoln's view ultimately prevailed. Like Daniel Webster , James Wilson , and Joseph Story before him, Lincoln argued that the Declaration of Independence was a founding document of the United States, and that this had important implications for interpreting the Constitution, which had been ratified more than a decade after the Declaration.

Lincoln's view of the Declaration became influential, seeing it as a moral guide to interpreting the Constitution. Jaffa praised this development. Critics of Lincoln, notably Willmoore Kendall and Mel Bradford , argued that Lincoln dangerously expanded the scope of the national government and violated states' rights by reading the Declaration into the Constitution.

In their " Declaration of Sentiments ", patterned on the Declaration of Independence, the convention members demanded social and political equality for women. Their motto was that "All men and women are created equal" and the convention demanded suffrage for women. The Declaration was chosen to be the first digitized text The adoption of the Declaration of Independence was dramatized in the Tony Award—winning musical and the film version , as well as in the television miniseries John Adams.

It was first performed on the Ed Sullivan Show on December 7, , and it was taken as a song of protest against the Vietnam War. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. United States Declaration of Independence facsimile of the engrossed copy.

This Day the Congress has passed the most important Resolution, that ever was taken in America. Physical history of the United States Declaration of Independence. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,. Stephen Hopkins , William Ellery Connecticut: Edward Rutledge , Thomas Heyward Jr. Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Declaration of Independence Trumbull.

Slavery in the colonial United States. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. You ought to do it. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise.

Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can. When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting. The Mystery of the Lost Original , p. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 4, A History , The U. Context and Criticism , Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, , p. The Declaration of Independence: The text of the king's speech is online , published by the American Memory project.

The modern scholarly consensus is that the best-known and earliest of the local declarations is most likely inauthentic, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence , allegedly adopted in May a full year before other local declarations ; Maier, American Scripture , For the full text of the May 10 resolve, see the Journals of the Continental Congress.

The text of Adams's letter is online. For the full text of the May 15 preamble see the Journals of the Continental Congress. Retrieved July 1, The quotation is from Jefferson's notes; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson , 1: Ferling , Setting the World Ablaze: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. Adams predicted that the celebration date would be July 2, the date the independence resolution was adopted, rather than July 4, the date the declaration was approved.

Though he may have predicted the wrong celebration date, his thoughts were prophetic. Boyd, "The Declaration of Independence: The Mystery of the Lost Original". Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography , number 4 October , p. Retrieved October 12, The Online Library of Liberty. Retrieved March 8, Armitage discounts the influence of the Scottish and Dutch acts, and writes that neither was called "declarations of independence" until fairly recently Global History , pp.

For the argument in favor of the influence of the Dutch act, see Stephen E. Lucas, "The 'Plakkaat van Verlatinge': Retrieved June 13, Jefferson identified Bacon , Locke , and Newton as "the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception".

Their works in the physical and moral sciences were instrumental in Jefferson's education and world view. In a similar vein, historian Robert Middlekauff argues that the political ideas of the independence movement took their origins mainly from the "eighteenth-century commonwealthmen , the radical Whig ideology", which in turn drew on the political thought of John Milton , James Harrington , and John Locke.

See also Kenneth S. Lynn, "Falsifying Jefferson", Commentary 66 Oct. Ralph Luker , in "Garry Wills and the New Debate Over the Declaration of Independence" The Virginia Quarterly Review , Spring , —61 agreed that Wills overstated Hutcheson's influence to provide a communitarian reading of the Declaration, but he also argued that Wills's critics similarly read their own views into the document.

Albert Henry Smyth New York: Ellis, US Jefferson's Declaration of Independence , p. Now More Than Ever , p. State Department , The Declaration of Independence, , pp. Archived from the original PDF on May 10, Retrieved October 6, Retrieved March 9, A Multitude of Amendments, Alterations and Additions: Boyd Papers of Jefferson , 1: Boyd argued that, if a document was signed on July 4 which he thought unlikely , it would have been the Fair Copy, and probably would have been signed only by Hancock and Thomson.

All of these copies were then destroyed, theorizes Ritz, to preserve secrecy. By the s, Fourth of July celebrations had become public, ritualized, principally local expressions of Independence and American nationalism. To some, the popularity of these celebrations exposed a fuller understanding of the constitutional significance of the Declaration. Antislavery advocates also recognized the value of marrying Fourth of July celebrations with their Declaration-supported arguments against slavery.

American Presidents and Members of Congress were slower and more cautious in their early uses of the Declaration. An early exception occurred when the First Congress debated an impost bill in In the end, at the urging of others including his Virginia colleague James Madison, Parker agreed to withdraw his original motion. More commonly, early Members of Congress and Presidents occasionally found it useful to recall or echo parts of the Declaration in their public discussions and writings.

In Letters of Helvidius , for example, U. Toward the end of the s, opponents of President John Adams discovered additional political uses of the Declaration, employing it effectively in their efforts to build a national opposition party against him and the Federalists. Caught in opposition to the Declaration and, after , with an unpalatable interpretation of the Constitution, Federalists were silenced by the new symbolic and conceptual consensus, never again regaining control of either Congress or the Presidency.

Two additional uses of the Declaration of Independence before also deserve mentioning. Calhoun, one of the War Hawks who emerged in the U. House, explained his militant stand against Great Britain in language and a rhetorical style reminiscent of the Declaration. In addition to agreeing to rebuild parts of Washington, D.

Congress that was to be built between the House and Senate chambers—a building project that delayed completion of the Trumbull commission until In November , under the watchful eye of Members of. With the conclusion of the War, foreign threats and invasions also seemed to grow increasingly distant and improbable for all but the most anxious nationalists. Shorn from these traditional uses and conceptual moorings, a variety of individuals and social groups infused the Declaration with new meanings and uses.

Abolitionists continued to look to the Declaration and its explicit endorsements of the Creator, human equality and freedom as the great constitutional touchstone that legitimized their social cause. Not surprisingly, many of these groups wove their social reform agendas into the discourses and activities associated with annual yet still localized Fourth of July celebrations.

Members of Congress and U. Presidents also employed and reacted to the Declaration of Independence in new and unconventional ways. In subsequent debates over the status of Missouri, Pennsylvania Representative Joseph Hemphill , employed the Declaration with less discrimination than Fuller, arguing that neither the Declaration nor the U.

Constitution limited citizenship based upon skin color. They were identified with the nation, and its wealth consisted, in part, of their labor. They had fought for their country, and were righteously included in the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

This was their condition when the Constitution of the United States was framed, and that high instrument does not cast the least shade of doubt upon any of their rights or privileges; but on the contrary, I may challenge gentlemen to examine it, with all the ability they are capable of, and see if it contains a single expression that deprives them of any privileges that is bestowed on others.

Their situation is similar to others, in relation to the acquirement of property, and the various pursuits of industry. They are entitled to the same rights of religion and protection, and are subjected to the same punishments. They are enumerated in the census. Slavery apologists in Congress aggressively countered these new egalitarian interpretations of the Declaration of Independence.

As historian Philip F.

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Declaration Of Independence The Declaration of Independence is a document that was written by the continental congress and tommas Jefferson in perticular to the king of england and the english parlament. It was written as a statement to the english that the colonnies were breaking off from the british empire.

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- Summation of the Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence, composed in Congress, on July 4, , was not only a statement displaying the rights of the governed, but was a declaration of why the thirteen states of the United States was separating themselves from Great Britain.

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The Goals of the Declaration of Independence Essay Words | 5 Pages. The Goals of the Declaration of Independence The American Revolution was not only a battle between the British and the colonists; it was a historical movement that brought about new ways of . The Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in Its purpose was to declare the 13 colonies in America free and independent from Great Britain, get other colonists on board, and to encourage other nations to help them.

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Declaration of Independence importance essaysThe Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4th , is one of the most important documents in American history. It helped to define America's values and its freedom, as it still stands today. Analysis of the Declaration of Independence Essay Words | 5 Pages Analysis of The Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson was made in order to give the colonists a way to break free from the shackles of King George.