On July 4, 1776, two days after it adopted the Lee Resolution that declared the united colonies’ independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), which explains that decision by “declar[ing] the causes which impel them to the separation.” These causes are laid out in the bill of particular charges against the king, the listing of which constitutes the bulk of the Declaration. But in addition, the opening paragraphs of the Declaration provide the first and most authoritative statement of what we might call “the American creed.” For in separating from Great Britain, the united colonies ground their claim to political independence in a teaching about individual human rights—to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—to which rightful freedoms all human beings are said to be equally entitled.
In articulating the four self-evident truths (natural equality, inalienable individual rights, government founded on the consent of the governed, and the people’s right of revolution) and compiling the list of the king’s abuses, Jefferson claims to have done nothing more than “place before mankind the common sense of the subject.” “It was,” he explained years later, “intended to be an expression of the American mind.”1 Even so, this birth announcement of the American Republic reveals that it is the first nation anywhere to be founded not on ties of blood, soil, or lineage but on a set of philosophical principles for which the document—and the nation—are justly celebrated. Also see – The History of the Declaration of Independence, www.Military.com
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