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American history is recorded in various literature materials, such as biographies, books, articles, newspapers, and even statues. Although some of the events are directly stated in the sources, some information about the socio-political and economic issues can be inferred from them. Also, a lot of material on the people’s living statuses, their ideologies, needs, and wants can be gleaned from them. This is the case with the document The Declaration of Independence. It is a useful text that covers a myriad of historical happenings, the drive behind its making, and the authors’ ideologies and beliefs.
Having been fed up with the colonial system and governance of the British over America, a group of native legislators from thirteen states in the United States of America met to state their position on the matter. These individuals, led by John Adams from the state of Massachusetts, chose Thomas Jefferson to come up with a writing that detailed their grievances, their determination to be free, and the decision to declare that they will no longer be under the oppressive rules of the colonial government. Thus, Jefferson drafted these particular claims and put it before the committee of five congressmen to review and vary the contents where possible.
The main tenets of The Declaration of Independence are two-faceted: the need to enjoy certain rights and the reasons for refusing to continue being governed by Great Britain. These forms are the basis for the preamble, which states that every man is equal and has particular inherent rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and the right to be happy; truths, which must not be denied. On the other hand, The Declaration of Independence narrates the ordeals that the Americans experienced. They include being forced to use foreign laws, forced taxation, extrajudicial killings, use of natural resources, and military forces to benefit the colonizer rather than the colonies and the refusal for the natives to have their own representatives in the legislature.
The Declaration of Independence was thus a response to the tyrannical British rule and the need to be free from its powers. During 1774, people had started to realize that no human being was less than the others through Enlightenment. In this sense, they wanted to be as free and independent as the colonizers, with the ability to make their own governing rules including their legislations. As a result, Americans needed to remove the barriers to their freedoms and violators of their human rights. One of the ways in which the Enlightenment affected the Declaration was in the need to have Americans making their own laws and defending their right to life, liberty, and making own social choices in place of those imposed on them by the British. These ideas are put in the form of the facts and reasons that brought the thirteen states together. For instance, a part of the Declaration states that “…He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected… the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within” (UShistory.org 1).
Moreover, the main author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in giving the document its content, power, voice, and shape as it is. Being the leader of people, he voiced his discontentment about how Americans were denied the right to choose their own leaders into the parliament. This is constitutional rights that ensure that democracy is practiced. Also, human rights are protected by legislators who make them. As a consequence, when Jefferson saw that these rights were being infringed upon, he ensured that he find ways of allowing the subjects to enjoy them. That is why he included their violation as one of the grounds for defying colonial rule through the Declaration.
Besides, the Declaration clearly shows that Americans were oppressed. They were paying mandatory and exorbitant taxes; they were forced to serve in the army for the benefit of the British government; their people were killed at the slightest opportunity, and the laws governing their existence were made by the British who neither knew nor understood the American people’s needs and wants. All these information is laid down in the Declaration in the form of ‘facts submitted to a candid world’ (UShistory.org 1). Here, the facts are summaries of the sufferings and the need to be independent from the colonial rule.
Contrarily, although The Declaration of Independence was framed by the need to have American political representation, freedom, and equality for every citizen, it sidelined some sections of the population, which were the women and minorities (Wade 1). These group of people was the most affected by the colonial rule, which forced them to provide labor for little or no pay at all. There is no portion of the declaration that states anything about their torture and mistreatment by the colonial regime (Wade 3). Therefore, it is always assumed that the only people who faced mistreatment and sufferings were men who served in the army, the American leaders who were denied the opportunity to make their own laws suitable for Americans’ needs, and the men who paid taxes as the heads of their families.
In summary, The Declaration of Independence is an important source of American history, which was influenced by socio-political and economic ideologies. The main author, Thomas Jefferson, applied his political knowledge and experience to draft the text, which gave the citizens an opportunity to exercise constitutional rights of equality, right to life, and right of liberty as against the colonizers. Also, the document was shaped by the Enlightenment ideas, which called for human treatment of all human beings. Nonetheless, the source was exclusive of women and minorities’ plights as it completely failed to mention how they were oppressed.
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