Declaration of Independence Project
Signing of the Declaration of Independence

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?

I think it was necessary that Jefferson started The Declaration of Independence with “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” The word unanimous shows that there is little doubt in any ones’ mind that all of the thirteen states are united. I think that the word unanimous makes America seem more together as a country. Yes I think that it would have been possible for the colonies to declare independence without a unanimous verdict. I do think that it would have been much harder if it was not unanimous. I think that the patriots would have had to persuade some loyalists for the Declaration to happen and be approved.

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 the reasoning behind the formal declaration of independence by stating that Great Britain has taken away the natural rights of American colonists. It was nescessary for Jefferson to state the "causes which impel them to separation" because it is more convincing to people world wide when they understand the reasoning behind the facts. Also, when other colonists hear about the specific grievances of colonists from harsh government treatments, they can relate. This is why the Declaration of Independence was so effective and understandable.

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 sustain and protect the people. A government should base it’s moral around an idea of protection of the people. Without a government, the people could feel little to no protection and would arise a state of panic. With high tensions people would trust each other less and would cause a lot more destruction.
Jefferson suggests that when a government fails to help the people as it promised, it should fall apart. It was chosen for the reason it promised and should be kept for the reason it promised.
Governments derive their powers from the people that support them. If people support them for something they like than the government will evolve to be better. Jefferson’s idea was that a government should be born by the people, in order to start off with an already evolved government.

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 Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This is directed towards the King of Great Britain because before, the King had made the colonists' feel insignificant in society. This caused many conflicts to rise between the colonists and the Parliament of Great Britain because one was fighting for all the power (Britain) and the other country was fighting to make the power equal between the two (America). Jefferson believed that all men are created equal and they should be able to control their lives and what laws they do or don’t want to have. This statement also contradicts what they believe. If a slave was to read this and tell his master that the slave was just as equal as them and that they don’t have to be under their control this would cause a dispute.

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?

One grievance that Jefferson listed that I thought was one of the worst violations was, “imposing taxes on us without our Consent”. This is a bad violation because he is taking away colonist’s money without their consent. Some of the colonists don’t have much money, and it is being taken away by taxes. A second violation that I think is one of the worst is “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” This is bad because what he did has basically ruined the colonists’ lives. Their town has been destroyed. Last, I think that “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” is one of the worst violations also. This is because he is controlling what the population of the colonies are, and controlling where the colonists live. I believe that Jefferson blamed the king when Parliament passed the laws because all of the grievances were the King’s idea.

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.

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 Declaration of Sentiments (DoS) and the Declaration of Independence (DoI) are similar in their ideas, their layout, and their reason for making the declaration. The ideas are similar in that they are both being oppressed and they want to end that oppression; the DoS it talks about how men oppress women, and in the DoI it talks about how the King oppresses the people. They are similar in their layout because their two opening paragraphs are almost exactly the same, then they have a section about what the opposition has done to repress them, and lastly what they are going to do about it. Their reason for making these declarations is to unite the people and be able to fight against their enemy. Those are the things that make the Declarations of Sentiments similar to the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Sentiments