When in the Course of Human Events is a blog that looks at the Declaration of Independence and what it means in today’s society.
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On July 4, 1776, delegates from the thirteen colonies met in Philadelphia to discuss their grievances against the British government and to Declaration of Independence. This document outlined their reasons for breaking away from Britain and became one of the most important founding documents in American history. In the following paragraphs, we will take a closer look at the Declaration of Independence and its impact on the course of American history.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations
The Declaration of Independence
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain. The document was primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, and it has since become one of the most important symbols of American democracy.
The Declaration of Independence is divided into two parts: the preamble and the body. The preamble sets forth the philosophical justification for the colonies’ break from Britain, while the body lists specific grievances against King George III.
The most famous section of the Declaration is its opening sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This statement eloquently captures the colonists’ belief that all human beings have certain inherent rights that must be defended.
The Declaration of Independence remains an essential part of American civic education; it is often studied in schools and referenced in political discourse. It is a living document that continues to inspire people around the world who are striving for freedom and justice.
The Signers of the Declaration
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to discuss the possibility of declaring independence from Britain. Fifty-six delegates from all thirteen colonies were in attendance, and on July 2nd they voted in favor of independence. The following day, the committee tasked with drafting a formal statement announcing this decision—known as the Committee of Five—presented the document that would come to be known as the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration was not signed on July 4th. In fact, it would be almost a month before all the delegates put their names to the document. On August 2nd, 1776, Congress reconvened and began reviewing a fair copy of the Declaration that had been prepared by Timothy Matlack, an assistant to Pennsylvania’s secretary. With some small changes, they approved this copy and ordered that it be sent to each colony for ratification.
The last signature was added on January 18th, 1777, when Thomas McKean, a delegate from Delaware, affixed his name. New Hampshire became the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation—the forerunner to the Constitution—on June 21st, 1788; Rhode Island was the last on May 29th, 1790. All thirteen states had ratified by that time and the United States of America officially came into existence.
The fifty-six men who signed the Declaration came from diverse backgrounds and held a wide range of views on nearly every issue facing colonists in 1776. Yet they were able to set aside their differences and come together for a common cause: independence from Britain.
In conclusion, the Declaration of Independence was a necessary and important document in American history. It not only set forth the ideals that this nation is founded on, but it also served as a rallying cry for those who were fighting for independence. Though some of the language and ideas in the Declaration may seem outdated to modern readers, its overall message is still relevant and inspiring.