Essays on Declaration of Independence

Introduction for Essay

The Declaration of Independence, ratified on July 4, 1776, proclaimed and justified the separation of the original thirteen colonies from Great Britain. Along with its central and successful intentions, the Declaration set a basic foundation of freedom and equality that we now embrace fully in the twenty-first century. It has given hope and security to the people of the United States in times of distress. Yet, from the time of the first permanent settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, to the foundation of America and the Constitution, many practices followed by those settlers were not egalitarian. In fact, these practices followed by the people in Colonial America were hierarchical in nature. By looking deeper into the Declaration of Independence, the lifestyle of the Jamestown and Puritan settlers, and even the behavior of people after the foundation of the Constitution, freedom was dominant in early America, while equality was barely a factor.

Research Paper on Declaration of Independence

When the original English settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1607, they did not bring any women, children, or farmers along the exploration. However, there was an abundance of miners, investors, and English “gentlemen” on the ship. The Virginia Company, a joint-stock company, had received a charter for New World Exploration from King James I, with the goal of finding gold and the passage to the Indies and heading back to Europe rich as kings. This expedition was supposed to last a couple of years. Not one of the explorers had any belief or thought of setting up a colony, living there for the remainder of their lives.

Argumentative Essay Examples of the Declaration of Independence

Instead, the explorers found themselves in the Chesapeake Bay, eventually landing in an area that they called Jamestown, named after King James. Not only did they fail to encounter gold in Jamestown, the land was terrible for planting because of its marshy soil (which made it tough to grow plants) and mosquitoes flying everywhere. The land did have good natural resources available, like plants and animals. By the time the winter season arrived, the men who had not succumbed to disease from the mosquitos were subject to starvation. Because of the lack of farmers and land to produce nourishment, they were forced to steal food from the Powhatans, a Native American tribe that had already started a bad relationship with the Native Americans. In the spring of 1610, as the colonists were leaving, the colony was saved because of ships from Great Britain arriving with English reinforcements.

Thesis Statement for Declaration of Independence

Alongside the reinforcements on board was commander Lord De La Warr, who ordered them back to Jamestown with a new strategy. Rather than try to keep pace with the Powhatans, De La Warr, one who frequently used tactics of brutality on the native population of the New World, ordered the settlers to “get rid of them.” Suddenly, the small conflict over stealing food turns into a full war of extinction, the Anglo-Powhatan wars, forcing the Native Americans to run away or be killed. This method of treating foreigners can be related to the events in The Sot-Weed Factor, in which the dreadful treatment of fictional protagonist Ebenezer Cook is portrayed from the moment he steps into Jamestown. These moments include running into a young boy who “… asked from whom I’de run away…” (Cook, pg. 3), implying that Cook was a runaway slave. Later on, a “Quaker” would steal all of Cook’s belongings, and he would take the incident to court, where the judge was besotted and could not make an accurate ruling. Cook was a native of London, so one could imagine how the Native Americans were treated. By 1625, most of the Powhatan tribe was either dead or driven away from the Chesapeake Bay.

Jamestown: Challenges and Behaviors

The early 1600s in Jamestown, Virginia, had a social class that had very few wealthy landowners and a tremendously large working class. During this period, tobacco was introduced to the settlers in the area. It was a product that could easily be grown in Virginia soil, and it was a hot commodity that Europeans would happily purchase. Quickly, tobacco turned into a form of currency for Virginia. The introduction and advancement of tobacco were the saving graces for the Jamestown colony. However, tobacco requires a lot of labor to grow and process. This meant the introduction of slavery, as the first slave ship arrived in Jamestown twelve years after its foundation, with twenty Africans on board. Despite this first ship arriving in 1619, slavery was not a dominant labor force in the South until the late 1600s. Slaves were pretty expensive, and the area might have killed the person that one purchased, costing the slave owner’s investments.

The other option for these investors was indentured servants, who were typically young white men from England. These laborers were looking for a fresh start in the New World because they had many older brothers and had no chance of inheriting anything. Many landowners would pay for the laborer’s fee to get to Jamestown, and they would be indentured servants for a certain period of time (most contracts lasted seven years, while others would serve for as little as three). By the end of their servitude, they would have earned tools, clothing, and their own land, and the tools needed to become a planter of their own. The problem with the swamping land in Virginia is a recurring theme, and the reality is that a minority of these laborers made it to the end of their indenture. In most cases, this was a perfect deal for the wealthy landowners because most of them never had to live up to their promises.

This system of indentured servitude was a dominant labor force up until around the 1700s, when fifteen percent of the population in Virginia were enslaved Africans. Suddenly, a system that had more temporary white laborers had turned into one with permanent African laborers. Part of the reason for this is because of a rebellion led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676, which was the turning point in American slavery. The intention of this Rebellion was to fight the political power system, as the indentured servants were treated as well as slaves (in some cases, slaves were treated better than the servants). In 1676, more indentured servants were finishing the terms of their indenture but were struggling to make a living. This is because the planter was unable to give them their own land because the land was already scarce.

The House of Burgesses, the democratic government in Virginia led by Governor William Berkeley, profoundly refused to start another war of extinction with the Native Americans, as they were trying to avoid conflict with the Native Americans. Bacon, angry, created a militia of white (and black) men, proceeded to raid Native American villages, killing a large number of them, and set Jamestown on fire. Once the Rebellion ended, Berkley was run out of town, and the House of Burgesses started to believe that indentured servitude was no longer going to work. With a lack of land and work for indenture, Virginia would end up in constant Rebellion. Now they start to look towards a system that never awards freedom to its laborers, and this happens to be chattel slavery.

Bacon’s Rebellion and the Rise of Slavery

Bacon’s Rebellion not only reintroduced slavery as the main option for labor in the United States South, but it was also the basis for racism. Because of the Rebellion, the elite landowner class was seemingly forced to separate the races into two sharper social divisions. This was the first contact of real nativist racism in the US South because the treatment of these slaves was low-class. This is shown in eyewitness accounts such as The African Slave Trade from Olaudah Equiano, known as Gustavus Vassa, during his lifetime. He was kidnapped into slavery at eleven years old and was only able to buy his freedom in 1766 from a Quaker merchant. On the ship, he saw “…a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow” (Equiano, pg. 59).

Ideas of Racism and Treatment of Slaves

The treatment from the white men on the ship was to a point where refusing to eat could get you severely punished. “…on my refusing to eat, one of them held me fast by the hands, and laid me across…the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other flogged me severely” (Equiano, pg. 59). By the end of his account, he is left to question why he is forcefully separated from his family and leaves the reader with this statement: “Surely, this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery” (Equiano, pg. 61). An insurmountable amount of slaves would have rather died than be treated the way they were in the South. Because of one large Rebellion, a society in which there was a large working class where


While Virginia and the rest of the US South seemed to be racially intolerant, many settlers in the North were just as terrible. When the Puritans arrived in the town of Boston in 1630, their main goal was to create a perfect society, a new social world that would lead to worldwide change. This was impractical in Great Britain, and they moved away from Europe due to religious prejudice.

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