Weaknesses of The Declaration of Independence

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 605 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 605|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Exclusionary Language
  2. Lack of Legal Authority
  3. Contradictions in Philosophical Underpinnings
  4. Conclusion

The Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, is a cornerstone document in American history, symbolizing the colonies' struggle for freedom and justice. It eloquently articulates the principles of individual liberty and government accountability, and its rhetoric has inspired countless movements worldwide. However, while the Declaration is celebrated for its strengths, it is also important to scrutinize its weaknesses. This essay aims to explore the inherent flaws in the Declaration of Independence, focusing on its exclusionary language, lack of legal authority, and the contradictions in its philosophical underpinnings.

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Exclusionary Language

One of the most glaring weaknesses of the Declaration of Independence is its exclusionary language. While the document famously asserts that "all men are created equal," it is clear that this equality did not extend to everyone living in the colonies at the time. Women, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans were conspicuously absent from the Declaration's promises of equality and unalienable rights. The Founding Fathers, many of whom were slave owners, did not address the inherent contradiction between their call for liberty and the existence of slavery. This exclusion has led to significant criticism over the years, as it highlights the hypocrisy of a document that claims to champion universal rights while simultaneously ignoring large segments of the population.

Lack of Legal Authority

Another significant weakness of the Declaration of Independence is its lack of legal authority. The Declaration is often conflated with the legal framework of the United States, but it is important to note that it holds no legal standing. It was a revolutionary manifesto rather than a binding legal document. The Declaration served primarily as a statement of intent and a rallying cry for the colonies, rather than a framework for governance. Consequently, while it laid the philosophical groundwork for American independence, it did not provide a detailed plan for the establishment of a new government. This lack of legal authority meant that the colonies still had to create a separate, formalized constitution to govern the newly formed United States, which led to the drafting of the Articles of Confederation and eventually the U.S. Constitution.

Contradictions in Philosophical Underpinnings

The Declaration of Independence also suffers from contradictions in its philosophical underpinnings. The document draws heavily on Enlightenment ideals, particularly those of John Locke, who emphasized natural rights and the social contract. However, the practical application of these principles was inconsistent. For example, the Declaration asserts the right of the people to "alter or abolish" any government that becomes destructive of their rights. While this was a powerful justification for breaking away from British rule, it did not address the complexities of establishing a new government that would adequately protect those rights. Moreover, the Declaration's emphasis on individual liberty was at odds with the collective action required to form a new nation. This tension between individual rights and collective governance remains a key challenge in American political philosophy and has led to ongoing debates about the balance between personal freedom and societal responsibility.

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In conclusion, while the Declaration of Independence is a seminal document that has had a profound impact on the course of history, it is not without its weaknesses. Its exclusionary language, lack of legal authority, and contradictions in philosophical underpinnings highlight the complexities and challenges of translating revolutionary ideals into practical governance. These weaknesses do not diminish the importance of the Declaration but rather serve as a reminder of the ongoing struggle to realize its lofty ideals. By critically examining the flaws in the Declaration of Independence, we gain a deeper understanding of the document and the historical context in which it was created, as well as the enduring challenges of achieving true equality and justice.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Weaknesses Of The Declaration Of Independence. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Weaknesses Of The Declaration Of Independence.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Weaknesses Of The Declaration Of Independence. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Weaknesses Of The Declaration Of Independence [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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