Declaration of Independence Catechism - Homeschool

A Catechism on the Declaration of Independence
From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary CATECHISM, n.
1. A form of instruction by means of questions and answers, particularly in the
principles of religion*.
2. An elementary book containing a summary of principles in any science or art, but
appropriately in religion*, reduced to the form of questions and answers, and sometimes
with notes, explanations, and references to authorities.
*The Declaration is a religious document. Notice references to God, which have been underlined here.
“God is acknowledged as our Supreme Ruler not man” is the principle of religion considered here.
1. Q. What is significant about America’s Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776?
A. It was a written statement in which the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain
and their freedom from tyranny under the King’s rule.
2. Q. Why is the Declaration called the Charter of the United States?
A. It established the foundation for our future government and was the “why” to which the later
Constitution (1787) was the “how” the principles of liberty would be implemented.
3. Q. Into what four parts does the Declaration naturally fall?
A. “1. The preamble or introduction, which states the purpose of the document.
2. A paragraph discussing the statement of the purpose and nature of governments, and
explains why this document is being made.
3. A list of charges against King George III, justifying the declaration; and
4. The formal declaration of independence itself.” Know Your Declaration of Independence
and the 56 Signers by George E. Ross.
4. Q. How does the Preamble to the Declaration read?
A. 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 require that they
should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
5. Q. What is meant by “laws of nature and of nature’s God”?
A. The “laws of nature” are unwritten laws identified to be laws God put into all of nature.
The “laws of nature’s God” are the laws of God, the revealed law known to be the Bible.
6. Q. How does part 2, which is the statement of the purpose and nature of governments, read?
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created [not evolved] equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are
instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;* That
whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the
People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on
such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their Safety and Happiness. *[This was later stated in our Constitution as “We the
people”.] Read the remaining Declaration.
7. Q. What is meant by “truths to be self-evident”?
A. These are truths, which are obvious, clear even to the casual observer.
8. Q. What is meant by “all men are created equal”?
A. Every person is equal before God (in worth, even though all have sinned) and equal before the law.
9. Q. The next line states, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”.
What are “unalienable rights”?
A. These are God-given rights that cannot be taken from the individual (hence, unalienable), as
opposed to government grated privileges given (and taken away) by governments.
10. Q. What are these basic rights from the Creator?
A. These rights are “life” (even for the unborn), “liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Internal liberty inside Christians must be expressed externally. Real freedom can only
come from Jesus because “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Cor. 3:17
11. Q. From where did the founding generation learn these principles of Godly civil government?
A. From their knowledge of the Bible, from the pulpits of patriot pastors and from others who
quoted extensively from the Bible in their writings and/or speeches.
12. Q. Does “pursuit of happiness” mean free to do anything a person wants with no restraints?
A. No, it was a phrase known to be the right to own property and be productive without the
interference of government—a pursuit of happiness that is blessed by God.
13. Q. How does the Declaration deal in part 3 with the charges against Britain’s King?
A. Part 3 opens with these words, The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history
of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an
absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:
[The King’s tyrannical acts are then listed. See the Declaration for these and compare to I Sam.8:10-18.]
14. Q. How does the Declaration of Independence close in part 4?
A. It closes with these words: 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.
15. Q. What happened to the 56 signers who pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred
A. Many lost their lives, lives of family, as well as their fortunes, but none lost their honor.
16. Q. How did John Adams, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, suggest this event should be celebrated?
A. It “will be a memorable epoch in the history of America…celebrated by succeeding
generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of
deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with
pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, illuminations from one
end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
By Mrs. Betty Howard, July 4, 2007, Tulsa, OK