“The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson Essay
“The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson
“The Declaration of Independence” is one of the most defining works of American history. During the writing of the “Declaration of Independence”, the Thirteen American Colonies were very busy deciding whether America should be independent or not. Some of the topics included how Britain treats the American Colonies, and whether the timing is right to depart from the rule of Great Britain. However all of this heated debate all boiled down to one inspirational document which set the course of American history. In “The Declaration of Independence”, Thomas Jefferson declares that the American Colonies should abandon King George III because of the king’s tyranny toward the Colonies, demolition of the colonies’ right to self-rule, and neglect of the colonies needs.
The Kings tyrannical measures regarding the thirteen colonies is one of the most prominent themes in “The Declaration of Independence”. Jefferson first starts by stating that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distinguished period and pursuing invariably… it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government” (338). In this opening preamble Thomas Jefferson explains that the people should not overthrow their government for any minor reason. However when those people are victims of repeated abuse by a tyrannical government, then, says Jefferson, it is the people’s duty to overthrow that tyrannical government. Then in the 27 grievances section Jefferson describes another oppression when King George III has “called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures” (338).
King George does not want the Thirteen Colonies to have any power at all. He tries to make the legal process so painfully hard that no one will bother to try and stop him because of all the work that is required to do so. In addition to the trouble the colonists have to go thorough for that, whenever they “have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injuries” (340). One of the reasons the colonists are rebelling is because the king refuses to stop oppressing them. This is why, as stated earlier in “The Declaration of Independence”, the colonies have a duty to abolish their current government and establish their own. It is their right to have a government which does not tyrannize its people.
In addition to the Thirteen American Colonies abandoning King George III because of his tyranny to the colonies, the American Colonies are also right to abandon the king because of his demolition of the colonies right to self rule. One of the first examples of the dismemberment of their government is when the king “combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws” (339). This quote refers to the Quebec Act of 1774, which allowed the citizens of Quebec to engage in public affairs of the Thirteen Colonies. It was done to secure allegiance from the Quebec citizens, but it rendered the thirteen colonies unable to expand westward as their population grew.
And the Quebec Act of 1774 is considered one of the Intolerable Acts done by England. Even after through these intolerable acts the citizens of America called for the help of England only to find that even the British citizens “have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity” (341). Even though the colonies are considered the daughter of Britain; when asking for help Britain just turns them down. The colonies have tried to establish peace to Britain, but now they have no choice but to separate from Britain and start their own self-ruled government.
The government has taken away their right to self-rule, but now “the United States of America…do in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these states reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain” (341). The USA now has asserted their independence and only now can they self-rule, after repeated petitions and requests only after completely abdicating their governing king, do they have the right to self-rule. It is every countries right to rule its self, and if that right is taken away it is their duty to take action into their own hands.
Indeed the United States of America is right to abandon King George III because of his demolition of the colonies’ right to self-rule, but the Thirteen Colonies are also right to abandon Great Britain because of its neglect of the colonies needs. In the preamble of “The Declaration of Independence” Jefferson writes that people “are endowed by their creator certain inalienable rights; that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government” (337-338). By writing this, Jefferson implies to the reader that Great Britain has not allowed them life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.
And by neglecting to give his colonies this, King George III is only giving the Americans the right to abolish their current government and start a new one. In the list of abuses and usurpations the first one listed is that the king “has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good” (338). Any good monarch would at least allow his subjects the luxury of necessary laws; but not even King George III could supply his colonists with that. What right does the king have to be making laws for a land over 3,000 miles away, with no representation from the colonies whatsoever? Jefferson dubs King George III “a prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free” (340). King George’s neglect of this situation shows his true ignorance. The colonists only wanted to peacefully leave Britain, yet he shut out their cries for help, and ignored all they asked of him. Due to King George’s neglect of the situation he forced the colonists to rebel against his rule.
In “The Declaration of Independence”, Thomas Jefferson declares that the Thirteen American Colonies have the right and duty to abandon King George III because of the king’s oppression toward the colonies, destruction of the colonies right to self-rule, and ignoring the colonies needs. This work, which clearly defined the United States withdraw from Great Britain, is the fundamental document of the American Revolution. This was due to many of King George’s Intolerable Acts which have all been named under the “List of Twenty-Seven Grievances”. And although the colonist petitioned these acts they were only shut out by the King of England. It was these rebels that allow for America to be as it is today.