Declaration of Independence
Writing the Declaration of
• At the 2nd Continental Congress the
colonists appointed a committee to write
the Declaration of Independence to
officially announce they were no longer
part of Britain
• Thomas Jefferson was the main author
• The document has 4 parts
– Ideals (opinions)
– Arguments (reasons why)
– Complaints (what the British had done)
– Conclusion (they could no longer be
part of Britain)
Preamble of the Declaration of Independence
• When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary
for one people to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another and to assume among the
powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which
the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should
declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
• What does this mean?
– Sometimes one party has to leave the group to take back the
rights they are given by God.
– The laws of society say they should declare the reasons why
they want to separate.
Principles and Ideals
• Equality
– “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men
are created equal
• Popular sovereignty
– “Governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the
– Government gets its power from the people
• Natural Rights
– “they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness”
Arguments for independence
• The rights of citizens are based on natural
(God’s) law and no government
can take it away
• If government violates
natural law the people
have the right to
abolish (change) it
• The colonists had agreed
to be governed by the
king as long as he protected them
More arguments for independence
• The colonists did NOT have an agreement with
Parliament so they could not tax them
• The king violated their agreement and their
rights so the colonists no longer had to be
governed by him
Complaints against the King
1.Trying to destroy colonial legislatures
2. Refusing to give power to courts
in the colonies
3. Requiring “quartering” (housing)
of British soldiers in colonists’ homes
4. Imposing taxes without consent (permission)
5. Cutting off trade between the colonies and the rest of the
6. Denying colonists the right to trial by jury
2nd Continental Congress
• The colonies are “free and independent states”
• They are absolved [free] from all allegiance [loyalty] to
the British Crown
• The colonies have full power to
Levy war
Conclude peace
Contract (make) alliances
Establish commerce (business)
Do anything that independent nations may do
Enlightenment ideas in the Revolution
• John Locke
– All people are born with the natural rights of
life, liberty, and property
• Thomas Hobbes
– all political power must be representative and
based on the will of the people
• Jean Jacques Rousseau
– Government is based on a social contract
between the people who agree to be
– If government fails to protect the people it
should be overthrown
Colonial Views on Independence
• People who were loyal to the king
were called Loyalists or Tories
• They were often wealthy or large landowners
• They did not think separating from the British
was the answer to the high taxes and limits on
• People who wanted independence
were called Patriots