Declaration of Independence Ideology Analysis

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Words: 721 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 721|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

The Declaration of Independence is regarded as one of the most important documents in American history. The declaration is so important because it gives us a foundation of ideas and principles that our country is built on, starting with the idea that “all men are created equal”. Our forefathers continued to elaborate on this, writing about a variety of new things on life and liberty, reflected in their writing was their vision of our country. However, they did not simply pull these new philosophies and ideas out of thin air. What is little known is that our forefather’s ideas came out of the Age of Enlightenment from a variety of different European philosophers and thinkers. Three of the most influential ideas that came out of the European Enlightenment are Natural Rights, Popular Sovereignty, and Social Contract. These three ideas serve as the foundation of the Declaration of Independence, and our country as it is today.

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One can point to the most famous passages in the Declaration of Independence and find the idea of Natural Rights. John Locke used the term to describe the rights all people naturally possess. In the declaration, the founders refer to these rights by stating that, “all men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. We see rights listed as: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. In this text, the rights they are referring to are “endowed by their creator” meaning they are natural, and “unalienable” meaning they cannot be violated. Throughout the declaration, the forefathers later justify their separation from England in many ways. One of their justifications is that the king directly violated and took away those Natural Rights among many others. Our forefathers would no longer tolerate this tyranny.

Very notable grievances the forefathers had were over the lack of Popular Sovereignty. Popular Sovereignty is the idea that the authority and integrity of the government comes from the consent of the governed. The fathers claimed, “He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless they give up those people relinquish”. This is one of many grievances in the declaration listed in regards to Popular Sovereignty. One of the most powerful phrases in the declaration states that “…governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. The consent of the governed is Popular Sovereignty, people in control of their government and the way it operates. This shows us how the Colonists had a vision of the democracy they wanted to shape our country into.

This brings us into the idea of Social Contract. That there is a contract between the government and its people, and that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish”. The Colonists firmly believed that not only did the people have a Popular Sovereignty, they also decided that the government and the people needed to be bound together. The people will control the government in exchange for the government’s just control over the people. There needs to be consent on both sides. There was no social contract under the tyranny of King George. The colonists wanted a democracy, where a King cannot just repeatedly inflict a “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism”.

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In conclusion, the Declaration of Independence clearly shows the most influential ideas of the European Enlightenment. The declaration has many ideas, philosophies, grievances, and statements that clearly reflect the new ways of thinking that came out of the European Enlightenment. It is interesting to see just how important a simple idea or philosophy can be. The declaration should be a lesson to all of us on how much we can gain from new ways of thinking. The declaration should also be a reminder, not to just throw away or push to the side the foundation of principles our forefathers gave us. It is true that we will of course continue to improve and perfect out government and country over time. But we must not stray too far from our ideas and roots that serve as the very basis of our freedoms and protect us from potential tyranny.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Declaration of Independence Ideology Analysis. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Declaration of Independence Ideology Analysis.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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