It has become necessary for the 13 colonies to separate from Great Britain. These 13 colonies have the right to become a nation as legitimate as any other nation. Additionally, it is important to explain to the public, including those in other nations, why this declaration of independence is being made.This declaration is based on certain truths. All men are meant to be equal and to have certain rights ("unalienable rights") that the government should never take away. These rights include "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
• Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.• Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following: • Understand the logical connections between ideas • Identify, construct and evaluate arguments • Detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning • Solve problems systematically • Reflect on the justifications of one’s own beliefs and values
The Age of Reason in America• Rationalism is the belief that we can arrive at truth by using our reason.• Remember the definition of reason… • The ability to think in an ordered, logical way. “I think. therefore I am” -Descartes
Puritanism vs. Rationalism Puritanism Rationalism • Strong desire for freedom of• Sin to speak out speech against • Freedom to experiment, question Theocracy laws and institutions • The common good was more important than individual concerns
Puritanism vs. Rationalism (writing and literature) Puritanism Rationalism• Religious subjects – • Writing based on concerned with the science, ethics, government, h afterlife appenings; social and political improvements • Clarity, order, and balance is desired
American Literature in the Age of Reason• Most of literature is rooted in reality rather than imagination• Imagination had to be restrained by reason and common sense• Best minds are concentrating on social, political, and scientific improvements.
The most common types of literature:• Pamphlets• Speeches• Essays• Letters• Some poems and ballads (but are used to urge Americans into political action)
Prominent Writers• Benjamin Franklin – “Sayings of Poor Richard”• Patrick Henry – “Speech at the Virginia Convention”• Thomas Paine – “Common Sense”• Thomas Jefferson - “The Declaration of Independence”
The Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776
ORIGIN OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEDuring June and July of 1776, the main question facing the Second ContinentalCongress at Philadelphia revolved around independence: should the Americancolonies represented at this Congress declare their separation and freedomfrom the United Kingdom of Great Britain? After intense debate, the delegatesvoted on July 2, 1776 in favor of Richard Henry Lees resolution forindependence. On July 4, the Congress discussed and approved, with a fewchanges, the formal Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jeffersonon behalf of a five-person committee appointed by Congress (Maier 1997;McClellan 1989).
Structure and Key Ideas• The first part is an introduction that states the purpose of the document, which was to explain why the American people were declaring independence from the government of Great Britain.
Structure and Key Ideas The second part is a theory of good government and individual rights generallyaccepted by Americans from the 1770s until today. In this theory, all individuals areequal in their possession of certain immutable rights. These rights are not granted bythe government. Rather, they are inherent to human nature. Therefore, the first purposeof a good government is to secure or protect these rights. Further, a good governmentis based on the consent of the governed -- the people -- who are the sole source of thegovernments authority. If their government persistently violates this theory of goodgovernment, then the people have the right to overthrow it.
Structure and Key IdeasThe third part of the document is a list of grievances against King GeorgeIII, who was singled out to represent the actions of the British government.These grievances are examples of actions that violated the criteria for goodgovernment stated in the second part of the Declaration of Independence.These grievances, therefore, justify separation from the Kings bad governmentand establishment of a good government to replace it.
Structure and Key IdeasThe fourth and final part of the document is an unqualifiedassertion of sovereignty by the United States of America. Itproclaims the determination of Americans to defend and maintaintheir independence and rights.
Background• With the American colonies already at war with Great Britain, the second Continental Congress felt the need to declare their independence formally. A committee was appointed to prepare a document, and Thomas Jefferson wrote a first draft. After minor revisions, the draft was accepted by the committee and officially approved by the congress on July 4, 1776.
Purpose• The Declaration of Independence, completed and signed in July of 1776, marked the official separation between the 13 colonies and Great Britain. An armed struggle between the colonies and Britain had begun just over a year before, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
• Prior to the French and Indian war, the colonists had enjoyed over a hundred years of "salutary neglect." In other words, although laws were in place to maintain the subordinate status of the colonies to Great Britain, they were usually not enforced.
• Colonists initially protested these acts through peaceful means such as petition, boycott, and committees. They argued that since they had no representation in Parliament, they could not be rightfully taxed by Parliament.
• The job of drafting the Declaration of Independence fell to the youngest member of the committee, Thomas Jefferson. In composing the declaration, Jefferson drew on ideas from the Enlightenment, especially those of John Locke. Not only did the declaration represent a milestone in the history of the United States, it also turned the political philosophies of 18th century Europe into real political practice.
Preamble• Government exist to support the rights of men. Government exist only through the power of the people that they represent. When a government fails to grant rights to the people and removes the involvement of the people, the people have the right to change their government in a way that will allow for their unalienable rights to be protected.
List of abuses and usurpations• The colonies have suffered 27 at the hands of the King George III. Each of these abuses has been directed at the colonies for the purpose of establishing a tyrannical government in North America.
• The first 12 abuses involve King George III’s establishment of a tyrannical authority in place of representative government.
• Abuses 13 through 22 describe the involvement of parliament in destroying the colonists right to self-rule. The king has "combined with others" to subject the colonists to legislation passed without colonial input or consent.
• The last 5 abuses, 23 through 27, refer to specific actions that the King of Great Britain took to abandon the colonies and to wage war against them. The King has attempted to suppress the colonial rebellion through violence and military means.
Past actions of colonists• Up until this declaration, colonists have used non-violent means, such as petitions, to protest the abuses of King George III. Each attempt to request peaceful negotiations was met by neglect and more abuse.• Additionally, colonists tried to appeal to Parliament and other British citizens for help. These attempts were ignored. Colonists appealed to British citizens sense of justice, to their shared heritage and culture, and to their economic connection. These attempts failed, however, and the colonies have no other choice but to declare separation. In doing so, the new separate nation will view British citizens as enemies during wartime, and as friends in peacetime.
Conclusion and definition of a new government• The Second Continental Congress represents the people of the new nation called the United States of America. This declaration informs all the people of the world that the 13 united colonies are free from British rule and any political connections with Great Britain. The declaration also serves to appeal to the people of the world to understand the reasons why this separation is justifiable.