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The Declaration of Independence

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1 The Declaration of Independence
(A Modern Translation)

2 Preamble (Introduction)
Look Georgie, we’re breaking up with you. When you break up with someone, it’s only fair to tell them why you’re doing it. So that’s what this little note is all about!

3 Statement of Rights Why are we breaking up with you, you ask? Well, we think it’s obvious that all people are born equal and have rights that can’t be taken away. It doesn’t matter if you’re a king or a dockworker, you have the right to life, liberty, and to be happy. The whole reason you or any other king is in power is to protect these rights. It’s a little deal people make with people in charge. You protect us and these rights and we’ll listen to you. But if leaders are always breaking their end of the deal and disrespect the people—like you have done to us—forget about it! We won’t listen to you, we’ll fire you, and we’ll start a new government that will respect our rights. Check out all of the bad things you’ve done:

4 List of Complaints (Part 1)
You’ve passed laws here in the colonies that hurt us and help only England. You’ve weakened and ignored our colonial assemblies—the only government we have a voice in. You’ve made the courts very unfair and biased against us. You keep sending troops to push us around and you don’t even ask our permission!

5 List of Complaints (Part 2)
By the way, these troops are bullies. You let them live with us. You don’t pay them well enough and they take our jobs. Sometimes they murder us and then you don’t even punish them. You won’t let us trade freely with other nations. You tax us even though we don’t have representation in Parliament. Your courts are bogus—there are no juries, they are far away from our home, and judges make money when they put us in jail even though we’re innocent. Talk about stacking the deck!

6 List of Complaints (Part 3)
In other words, you’ve stopped protecting us. In fact, you’ve attacked us at places like Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. You’ve encouraged us to fight our friends and you’ve also turned the Native Americans against us.

7 You Should’ve Seen This Coming!
We tried to get you to stop all of this by sending you letters telling you about the problems, but you’d always ignore us. Because of this, you don’t deserve to rule us, and we’ll find someone or something that does a better job.

8 And Take Your Friends With You!
The people of England and the Loyalists (Tories) here in the Colonies are decent people. But they have allowed you to take our rights. Because of this they are also our enemies and we are breaking up with them too!

9 Statement of Independence
God is on our side because we’re right! So good riddance! The 13 colonies are now independent. We’ll fight you if you try to stop it. We’ll spend all of our money and fight to the death if we have to. At this point, it’s the only right thing to do. You blew it, your loss pal!

10 The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
Artist: John Trumbull; Oil on canvas, 12' x 18' Commissioned 1817; purchased 1819; placed 1826 in the Rotunda

11 Colonists Choose Sides
Colonists faced difficult choice as they chose sides: Patriots: Supported independence Saw economic opportunity in an independent America Made up about 50% of the population Loyalists: Opposed independence Remained loyal to the Crown An estimated 20% of the white colonial population

12 Taking Sides Quakers generally supported the Patriots but did not fight African Americans fought on both sides for promises of freedom Most Native Americans supported British  Less of a threat to their lands

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