Natural rights

Explain the basic ideas
contained in the Declaration.
The committee of five:
Benjamin Franklin
John Adams
Roger Sherman
Robert R. Livingston
Thomas Jefferson: selected to write
the draft of the Declaration.
The Declaration was an
important statement in the
development of our
constitutional government.
It is also an excellent example
of the arguments of the natural
rights philosophy.
Life, Liberty, and property
It contains several important parts.
Ideals of the Declaration:
It is one of the best statements of the ideals of our nation.
It states that all men are created equal and that they all
have certain basic rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Throughout our history, many people have worked
hard to make these ideals a reality for everyone.
“We hold these Truths to be self evident (easy for anyone to see), that
all Men are created equal, that they are endowed (given) by their
Creator (God) with certain unalienable Rights (basic or natural rights
that cannot be taken away), that among these are Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness---That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted (established)
among Men, deriving (receiving) their just Powers from the Consent
(agreement) of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these Ends (purposes), it is the Right of the
People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”
Arguments of the Declaration:
The Declaration was a justification for the American
Revolution. Jefferson used the ideas of the natural
rights philosophy in this argument.
1. The rights of the people are based on natural law. Natural
law is a higher law than laws made by people. Neither
constitutions nor governments may violate the natural law.
The only rightful purpose of government is to protect the
people’s natural rights.
2. If a government violates the natural law, the people
have the right to change or abolish the government and
form a new one.
3. An agreement existed between the colonists and the
king. The colonists consented to be governed by the
king so long as he protected their rights to life, liberty,
and property.
4. No agreement had been made between the colonists
and Parliament. So Parliament had no right to govern
the colonies or to tax them.
5. The king had violated his agreement with the colonists
by acting with Parliament to deprive them of their rights.
Therefore, the colonists had the right to withdraw their
consent to be governed by the king. They were free to
establish their own government.
Complaints against the King:
The Declaration contains a long list of complaints
against the British king.