One of the greatest documents considered to ever be written in human history is the Declaration of Independence. There were four primary purposes to the Declaration of Independence. They were: Explaining the position of the colonists on the purpose of government; Gaining support from reluctant colonists; Listing the grievances of the colonists against King George III in order to demonstrate the legitimacy of their actions; To encourage assistance from foreign nations. It was well known to many members of the Continental Congress that a prolonged war with England would be inevitable by the spring of 1776. By this time there had already been several battles fought, including the Battle of Ticonderoga, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Members of the Continental Congress were well aware that the colonists would need to be unified if there would be any hope of defeating the British and the most powerful army in the world.
By May of 1776 it had been determined by representatives to the Congress that a complete break with England was necessary as well as justified. While the northern colonies and the southern colonies had become convinced of this, many of the middle colonies were not entirely certain. A large number still wanted to attempt a reconciliation with England through diplomatic matters. The Declaration of Independence served to boldly state the necessary reasons for separation from the Crown.
The Declaration also served to explain the colonists’ view regarding the purpose of government. It is evident by reading the Declaration that the signers each believed all men were created equal by God and also possesses certain unalienable rights, meaning that certain rights are given to mankind by God, including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Governments are created in order to protect or secure these rights. Power of the government is derived from the consent of those who are governed, meaning that the people who are governed retain the right to make decisions regarding the way in which their government functions. This was drastically different from the way in which government had been previously used; in which government like that of England assumed the power to tell people how they should live and what to do.
This statement asserted that if a government should begin taking steps to destroy the rights of the people, rather than protecting those rights, it is the right of the people to change that form of government and institute a new government in its place that will protect their rights. In addition, the Declaration went on to list a number of violations of the trust that the people of the 13 colonies had with King George. All of these grievances were listed in order to demonstrate to fellow colonists as well as England, the king and the rest of the world that the colonies were justified in.
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