The Goals of the Declaration of Independence
The American Revolution was not only a battle between the British and the colonists; it was a historical movement that brought about new ways of thinking. The ideas of liberty and equality began to be seen as essential to the growth of the new nation. The separation of the American colonies from the British Empire occurred for a number of reasons. These reasons are illustrated in the Declaration of Independence. Although Thomas Jefferson wrote the document, it expressed the desire of the heart of each colonist to be free of British rule. British rule over the colonies became unbearable in the early months of 1776, making it clear to the colonists that it was time to either give in to British power or declare their independence. This idea of independence divided the colonies, but it was not long before a revolutionary committee met in Philadelphia and drew up the document that would change American history.
The Declaration of Independence was written to separate the American colonies from Britain, but there were many underlying goals. It was written to state the grievances that the colonists held against the British, particularly the king. The colonists wanted a better economy, a new republican government, but perhaps most of all, they simply wanted their misery to end. This is what they set out to explain in the document. John Adams described it as “a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man” (Friedenwald 182).
The forceful wording used in the introduction of the document was used for a reason. Jefferson writes, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” because he wants to make it clear that the colonists decision to separate is not defensible, preferable, or even desirable, it is necessary (Wills 94). He is also addressing the relationship between the Englishmen in Britain and the Englishmen in America. The colonists would still be connected to England, but they would no longer be a part England (Pleasants 53). The colonists would form their own government, and no longer be subject to British rule. The introduction concludes:
“ . . . and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitled them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.”
This implies that there should be equality among nations, according to natural law, and that it was time for the colonies to obtain this equal status (Pleasants 53). The colonists also felt that it was necessary to state their reasons for the movement towards independence. They would do this in the body of the document.
Their first reason for...