Signing of the Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence Project

1. Jefferson chose to begin the Declaration with the words, “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Do you feel that this was necessary? Why or why not? Could the colonies have declared independence if they were not unanimous? Why or why not?

Thomas Jefferson starts the Declaration of Independence with the phrase “Thirteen United States of America”. He did this because he wanted Britain to know that the Colonies were united, and ready to fight against Britian. Our group feels that this was a necessary statement because it told Britain and the King that the Colonists wanted to be free from Britain, and that they wanted to start their own country.

2. How does Jefferson explain the reason for a formal declaration of independence? Why do think it was necessary for Jefferson to state the “causes which impel them to the separation”?

Jefferson explains that the reason for a formal declaration of independence is because the British government has not protected the colonists’ natural rights, the colonists must write a declaration for independence from Britain. The colonists have the natural right to separate themselves from a government that is not protecting and abusing their natural rights. It was necessary for Jefferson to state the “causes which impel them to the separation” because he had to prove to the British why the colonies were forced to separate themselves from British rule. If Jefferson had not stated this, the British would have been able to create an argument for the colonists saying that there was no reason for them to be dividing themselves from the British. He also had to explain why the colonies should declare independence to the colonists. He had to convince those colonists who did not want freedom from Britain that Britain committed many wrongs and that they had to be independent from Britain. Without the “causes”, those colonists who did not want freedom probably would not have been persuaded at all to think that declaring independence was right.

3. According to Jefferson, what was the purpose of government? What does Jefferson suggest should happen whenever government becomes “destructive of the ends for which it was created?” According to Jefferson, how do governments derive their powers?

According to Jefferson, the purpose of government was to protect the people's natural rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whenever a government becomes "destructive of the ends of which it was created" Jeffereson suggests that public should have the right to revolt and start a new government. And, according to Jefferson, governments derive their power from the people. This is what Jefferson thinks the purpose of government is.

4. Jefferson noted that “all men are created equal,” suggesting that this was self-evident. What do you think he meant by this statement? What sorts of conflicts and misconceptions may have stemmed from that statement?
In the statement, he made it sound like all men and women had all the same rights and that they were all entitled to them. But we think he really meant that only privilaged white people were only created equal, and were the only onesentitled to these natural rights. Many conflicts and misconceptions came from this statement. One misconception that could have come from this is women would think that they had the same rights as white men; which was not true in the colonial time. Another conflict that arose from this statement is that the African Americans thought that they had the same rights as white men, the conflict that came from this statement was that the African Americans thought that they could be free. But according to the white men, they weren't.

5. Next, look at the list of grievances that Jefferson lists as reasons that the King violated the rights of the colonists. List 3 grievances that you feel are the worst violations. Why? Why would Jefferson blame the King when parliament passed all of the laws and the King had limited powers?

"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws of Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands" This grievence is saying that nobody is aloud to immigrate into the States. This is not only hurting America, but other people who want to immigrate into America. This is preventing them from have a larger population. "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people" this grievence shows how Britain not only hurt America but killed innocent citizens along the way. "He has excited domestic insurrections amonst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions." This grievence is explaining how the King caused a conflict amoung Indians and the Americans.I think Jefferson blamed the King because it was easier to put the blame on one person, rather than a going against a whole group of people, the Parliament. Also, the king was a universal symbol of Great Britain. Back then, when people thought of Britain, the king was a man that showed up in thier minds

6. In July, 1776, Jefferson may not have recognized that the Declaration of Independence would be studied and revered for over 200 years. Write a paragraph that explains your view of why that has happened.

The declaration of Independence was remembered after all of these years because it was the first sign of independence. It was the only declaration that has ever stated independence. If they didn’t remember the declaration no one would know what lead to the United Sates becoming independant from Britain. This document was a very important aspect of American history.

7. Read “The Declaration of Sentiments” from the Seneca Falls Conference (1848). How does this document borrow from Jefferson. Show at least 3 specific instances.
The main similarity between the Declaration of Sentiments and the Declaration of Independance is the format of argument. Another would be both declarations have to demand change because of a "long train of abuses and usurpations...". In other words things got so bad, so out of control and unfair that both Jefferson, Santon and Mott had to demand change. Another major greivence/ problem is that both are not represented by government therefore have no rights.
Declaration of Sentiments