An Interpretation of the Declaration of Independence

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Tolerance is a thing that many individuals have faced. When it comes to tolerance, there is a limitation of endurance. Throughout history, there is an occurring pattern that whenever a situation becomes unfavorable to citizens, the solution has always been to fight for change. One such instance is the moment the 13 colonies decided to separate from Great Britain. The 13 colonies had endured the tyrannical presence of Britain. Yet, they had hit a breaking point when it became apparent that the colonist’s rights had been violated after King George III imposed new taxes. Many of the colonists disliked that the taxes had been created without their consent. In addition, the colonists did not have a direct representation in the Parliament that had levied the taxes. In fact, the slogan no taxation without representation was coined out of their anger towards the heavy taxation brought upon them. Ending their tolerance with Britain’s treatment, the colonists finally set forth with the idea of establishing their own government. Moreover, the colonists wanted a government in which the citizens’ rights would be acknowledged. Thus, the Declaration of Independence was created out of a necessity to begin the process. After numerous discussions, the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. This was a huge milestone for colonial America, now known as the United States of America. Within this research paper, the purpose of the declaration will be explained. Even more, an analysis of how it became the foundation of enduring concepts and how it has been adapted into modern American political culture will be provided. Ideally, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence with an evident purpose. The genuine reason for the declaration was not only with the intention to create law, but formally providing an explanation for the Continental Congress’s choice to vote for independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence asserted a philosophy of government that no such government can rule without the consent of the governed, and that the basic purpose of government is to ensure and protect people’s rights. It gave a plethora of examples of how the government of Great Britain”particularly King George III”had violated rights of the colonists and by doing so lost their consent. It then proclaimed that, as a result of this, the colonies issuing it were free and independent states (Declaration of Independence: A Transcription). By severing their connections with Britain, the United States earned a rightful entrance to the international community as sovereign states (Pencak 225). With sound reasons and facts which they claimed under the doctrines of naturalist school of thought, the colonies had declared their rights to be admitted as sovereign states and to be treated as an equal to all existing official governments. During this era, it was customary to provide statements that were verifiable by observation and experience before giving out a main concern. The declaration presented the words that were needed to express to the international community the reasons as to why the colonists chose to separate from Britain. Many historians believed that Thomas Jefferson was heavily influenced by John Locke’s definition of natural rights while he wrote the declaration. One of the objectives of the declaration was to emphasize that all of mankind should have the right to protect their own lives, to be free to do something, and acquire their own property. Jefferson also stated that these rights cannot be denied or taken away. The next passage began talking about entering a social contract in which a government is created in order to secure a citizen’s natural rights (Declaration of Independence: A Transcription). Colonial Americans strived for an institution that recognized the frailties of being a human. By entering a social contact, people voluntarily agreed to participate being in a government. There were two main appeasements entailed with this social contract; the governed people had willingly given their consent to strip away some of their rights as a collective, all the while their natural rights would be protected by their government in return. The citizens had approved of allowing their government to have the power to legitimately use coercion to protect them and to continue to tax them. In broader terms, the government would protect its people from external and internal threats if they acquiesced to relinquish some of their rights. An equilibrium between the citizens of the United States and the government was maintained. What was more significant was the fact that everything had been done with consent. Moving forward, the Declaration of Independence mentioned the notion of popular sovereignty. This concept was based on the principle of consent and aimed to solidify that the assentation of the people is necessary for a government to legally prevail. To be more specific, a government’s authority to enforce laws and settle disputes comes directly from the voice of the people that they represent. Overall, a fair government is born out of the people’s will that is responsible on protecting its citizens natural rights. More so, everything that the declaration claimed would be held to withstand time and secured the rights of people. The entirety of paragraph 2 of the declaration established several universal truths. People have the right to create a new government when their rights are being threatened and these rights are given to them when they are born. This is exactly what colonial Americans had wanted; a government that would protect their rights and treat them with equality. In discussions of equality, the declaration stresses the importance of people having liberties, and the right to stand on the same level as everyone else. Initially in 1776, the phrase all men are created equal had been used to declare the entitlement of natural rights. However, these rights were limited to white men only. Slaves, women, and non-Europeans were deprived of these liberties. To say that all men are created equal was surely an understatement for the newly established government, and it would take several years for the phrase to flourish. It was not until 1865 that America abolished slavery. Along with this, former slaves earned citizenship and all men were given the right to vote. As the United States began to prosper, the guarantee of due process was granted to everyone. By 1920, voting rights had finally been given to women. The unconstitutionality of racial segregation was amended in 1964. In the following year, any voting rules that were deemed discriminatory became illegal. Amid all the criticism that this phrase had garnered, it can be truly said that this phrase is meant to be interpreted as the will of the future Americans (Armitage 55). Despite our nation’s past, all men are created equal is prevailing even in today’s society. For over 200 years, this society continues to work in attaining equality for all of mankind. The exertion of power to assert people’s rights and to make it into action is still a God given right. The manner in which these powers are being used is something that should always be taken heavily into account. The more powerful a society is, the more it is predisposed to cause our demise. An inquiry regarding how a government distributes equality to its people can be done by focusing on how the nation maintains a unique way of executing its powers. An excerpt from Neil L. York’s academic journal states: As celebrated now, independence then provided the political means to achieve a social end, that social end being a better life for Americans, their new nation acting as an example for the larger world. Or, as Stephan E. Lucas put it, the Declaration of Independence went through an apotheosis, which, over the years, Americans have come to see its original purpose in universal terms almost wholly divorced form the events of 1776 (York 563). In other words, the past persistently plays into what is happening currently. Although the United States does not face a repeat of what transpired in 1776, it is important to note that the Declaration of Independence stands as a reminder that participating in government is something that citizens have an obligation to do. Actively partaking in a government ensures the nature of how the future will look like. The creation of the Declaration of Independence would largely influence modern American political culture. The declaration itself is a symbolic representation of American democracy and, by extension, an example to other nations how a government should function. The governed citizens of the United States believe in the pursuit of freedom and expression of individuality. Furthermore, the declaration serves as the basis for many of the charters that are made. Case in point, the Bill of Rights is a continuation of what the Declaration of Independence established: citizens hold certain unalienable rights that governments cannot deprive from them. In conclusion, the signing of the Declaration of Independence was necessarily done to put an end to an oppression and justified that, in self-government, natural rights must be safeguarded. As a result, the United States of America came into existence solely because of what its people believed. It cannot be denied that governments are vital in the exercising of our laws. Any government without the careful eyes of its people will turn into a corrupt entity (Locke 18). Therefore, even today, the Declaration of Independence drives individuals to fight against forces that endanger what is rightfully theirs.

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