Declaration of Independence Philadelphia May 1775
To What Extent: “The Declaration of Independence has been variously interpreted as: A bid for French support An attempt to swing uncommitted Americans to the revolutionary cause A statement of universal principles An affirmation of the traditional rights as Englishmen.” To what extent are these interpretations in conflict ?
Second Continental Congress May 1775 Delegates meet in Philadelphia Movement toward Independence is growing British Government (Lord North) is not interested in negotiation.
“Common Sense” Thomas Paine, a middle aged English immigrant to the colonies Friend of Ben Franklin In January 1776 Wrote a pamphlet that argued it was “Common Sense” that the binds that tie the colonies to England be broken (500,000 copies were sold in a few years) Paine was a wonderful Propagandist
Common Sense Paine argued It was contrary to common sense for a large continent to be ruled by a small distant island and for people to pledge allegiance to a king whose government was corrupt and whose laws were unreasonable. Persuaded thousands of colonists to call for independence
“Common Sense” “O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the Old World is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted around the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her as a stranger and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.”
Independence in Congress Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, June 7, 1776, introduced a resolution to the Continental Congress, “These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states.” Delegates debated three weeks A committee was formed, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Livingston, and Sherman Jefferson was asked to write the document Took two weeks
Independence Declared July 4, 1776 Jefferson included Enlightenment ideas most notably from Locke “We hold these truths to be self- evident: All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Declaration of Independence, 1776 Most Americans did not desire independence; proud to be British citizens B. Reasons for shift of loyalty 1. Hiring of Hessians 2. Burning of Falmouth & Norfolk by the British 3. Governor of Virginia promised freedom to slaves who would fight for Britain. Impact: persuaded many southern elite to join New England in the war effort. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) 1. Became an instant best-seller in the colonies; effective propaganda Main ideas: Britain's colonial policies were inconsistent; independence was the only course
Declaration of Independence What did the Declaration of Independence say? How is the Declaration of Independence organized? What do you have to do?
How is the Declaration of Independence organized? The Document The Document is divided into four parts: Preamble: announces the reasons for the document, explains why colonists chose to separate from England Political Principles: a section identifies the ideas underlying the rights of the people, John Locke’s ideas The Declaration: the statement that these 13 colonies are now independent Complaints: the document lists the unfair acts perpetrated by the British Government
Assignment Read the Declaration of Independence While you read look for the following items: 1. Find evidence of Enlightenment ideas in the declaration. 2. What reasons do the colonists cite for separating from England? (Name 5) 3. List the complaints of the Colonists. (list 3 of them) 4. Why does Jefferson say the colonists should separate? (See paragraph 4). 5 There are 12 "facts" that Jefferson uses to make his points. Check them and determine if they are fact or opinion. 6. What acts of war do the colonists claim the king has perpetrated?