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The Declaration of Independence

September 26, 2009

The Declaration of Independence:

13-23 star

The first thing I have observed is it is a shorter read than I expected. The 13 colonies of America represented in creation of the  document.  I remember now these dates and topics being covered in high school but the teacher was not gifted nor knew how to exude his passion for history to engage us further than read the book, a small lecture a day, and read the paper while we did our classwork. I must have reflected non-interest that probably comes with being a rebellious teenager, and not necessarily a lack of trying on the part of the school.

John Hancock is president of Congress, in total 56 delegates.

The American Revolutionary War had already begun, yet the political development of America was not deterred. The 56 delegates of the colonies, was the second congress of representatives. The duties included managing the war and declaring independence from Britain. The amount of details and history surrounding this event is a busy time.  The second congress performing as the defacto government of the United States, the participants having responsibilities elsewhere and replaced, and the late arrival of Georgia included after the initial convening in May 10, 1775. Known as the 2nd Continental Congress  had no legal authority to raise money through taxes and performed many of their duties without support from the states, and derived their power for operating on national matters by the will of the people.

Thomas Jefferson credited as the main author of the Declaration of Independence and stated that the document had no original thought, but compiled by setement from the citizens on the streets, “Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion”.

First there was a declaration. Then the original draft which was critical of the slave trade, but many congressman owned slaves and set forth no example of setting them free, so after the debate subsided almost a fourth of the original writing deleted. Here is the original draft.

I have provided a link to US History.org that gives a detailed comparison of the First Draft, Reported Draft, and Engrossed Copy. The stance on anti-slavery derived from the word on the street, the will of people who found slavery abhorrent, and lends credit to the intellect of Thomas Jefferson’s desire to make a stand against all forms of tyranny, but unfortunately, out numbered among the desires of those reaping economic benefit.

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All things considered, the last version still stands with the principles that the future leaders can build upon for equal rights. This next document is the final document, and reading the translations in a book do not give the full essence of The Declaration of Independence being a living document. Without touching and feeling the paper, the closest I can bring us to the spirit of noble pursuits is this next image.

I always laugh when I look at this because it looks like someone folded it up and put it in their back pocket!

Within the document words are capitalized  in the middle of complete sentences.  Although the capitalizing is inconsistent, and random on how placed in the sentence, not as a standard, but as an emphasis: Course, Laws, Nature, God, Creator, Right(s), Life, Liberty, Happiness, Government(s), Men, Form, People, etc.

The beginning of the document describes the congress consensus of their understanding of nature and God,  situation in the Colonies, reality of governments and tyrants, the atrocities against the people who left Britain, and ending with a very powerful statement, which is…..you got it, declaring independence, with complete understanding of the risks involved and willing to stand for principles of a government ran by the people, for the people. The first thing that came to my mind is that this declaration takes ownership of the full responsiblity of success and failures and that every resource will be given to the cause, including in full the Lives, Fortune, and Honor of the citizens.

The reference to Natural Law on the onset of the document suggests that the philosophies of Cicero are influencing the premise of the document. If you only read the first two paragraphs you will see the spirit in which built America.

Text of the Declaration of Independence

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Natural Law is a  concept that is not easily described, and I anticipate the road to digesting the fundamental understanding will come with effort. The site I use the most in my life is www.dictionary.com. I began my research there with this definition:

natural law

The doctrine that human affairs governed by ethical principles that are part of the very nature of things and that is understood by reason. The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence contain a clear statement of the doctrine.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

After the signing of the Declaration of Independence  the delegates fled when the British troops occupied Philadelphia, and continued to work in the town of York, Pennsylvania.  The Articles of Confederation an urgent priority in the next steps of forming our government.

The Declaration of Independence is best exemplified in the man who took the torch of principles as  the intentions of the Founding Fathers and  boldly faced the next evolution in the history of mankinds moral and principled advancement as a civilized society.

President Abraham Lincoln credited with recognizing the Declaration of Independence as the first living document that would direct the goals of the countries achievement over time.  The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, and it is this principle that President Lincoln believed when reading the United States Constitution, one must do so through the eyes of the Declaration of Independence.

President Lincoln revered the Founding Fathers, and through study knew that the intentions were to advance forward, with the knowledge that the issue of slavery would be re-visit, and what needed would be found to build for the next generation to advance. Lincoln believed the Declaration of Independence exemplified the highest principles during the American Revolution. Lincoln concern intensified when the United States legitimized slavery by passing an expansion plan in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which blatantly defied the very principles fought for in the Revolution.

October 1854 – an excerpt from President Lincoln’s Peoria Speech

Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a “sacred right of self-government.” … Our republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. … Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it. … If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union: but we shall have saved it, as to make, and keep it, forever worthy of the saving.

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5 Comments leave one →
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