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The U.S. Declaration of Independence is a historical document in which the British colonies in North America declared independence from Great Britain, which was unanimously adopted by the Second Continental Congress, on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The date of acceptance (but not signing) of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, is celebrated in the U.S. as Independence Day. The declaration was the first official document in which the colonies were called The United States of America.
The principles proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence are in the best interests of the national bourgeoisie, which acted in the alliance with the planters against the old colonial order and against the aristocracy, closely related to the colonial metropolis. The national bourgeoisie was interested in the revolutionary transformation to sweep the barriers out of the way to its advancement to power (Armitage, 2007).
The U.S. Declaration of Independence is subdivided into two main parts.
The first contains the philosophical and the legal basis of the colonist rights for separate and independent existence.
The second is the practical argument in favor of the need and justification for the use of the peoples right to choose the form of government that better ensures its security and happiness.
The First Question
In the Declaration of Independence, the rights are stated as something extremely positive and therefore meaningful. The three rights - for the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - act here as the inherent properties, attributes, and, at the same time, as the treasure of the population. Moreover, the positive substantive nature of the rights is emphasized by the assertion that the Creator has endowed the people with these rights.
Thus the phrase ...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 is nothing but the definition of the rights reason at all, and it is formulated in the form of an axiom. Namely, the mention of the rights vested to the people in this context is caused by an attempt of a certain group of people to make sense of the term right in order to build consciously social institutions, which are to ensure the validity of the human rights.
The Second Question
The formulation proposed by Jefferson increased the potential of the Declaration of Independence, as it presupposed equal rights for all people, regardless of their financial status. The theory that the government should exercise the authority with the consent of the people shows the clear impact of the contractual origin of the state power on the Declarations drafters.
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson expressed three fundamental doctrines of the bourgeois enlightenment. They are the following: the equality of the natural rights of man; the doctrine of the social contract as the basis of political power; the right of the revolutionary overthrow of a despotic government.
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The Third Question
The formation of the U.S. statehood was inevitable in the future, and it is explained, first of all, by the economic prerequisites: the original colonies in their socio-economic nature were bourgeoisie. Stuarts (James I, Charles I) put a lot of effort to state the feudal system. In the conditions of a considerable number of vacant land, it was difficult to force the migrants to work on the feudal lords (Ellis, 2007).
The Europeans escaped from the European seniors; they came not to build new feudalism. These were, in the majority, energetic, brave, and determined people. They rushed to the freedom of action, conscience (faith), and property. To push them back into the framework of feudalism was almost impossible (Ferling, 2003).
In the second part of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, it is said that the King of England was a usurper, that he levied taxes on the colonists without their consent, and together with the Parliament tried to subdue the colonists under the jurisdiction, which was foreign to their Constitution, and unacknowledged by their laws.
The government was created to protect natural human rights, and the power of the government comes from the consent of the people to obey them. Because of the origin of the authority of government and because of the conditions of its existence people have the right to change or destroy the form of government if it is to strive for despotism.
The Fourth Question
The government gets its power from the governed. The right of the people is to change or to destroy it. The proclamation of the idea of popular sovereignty was of great historical significance.
By inclusion in the Declaration, the so-called natural rights are converted into the natural rights of individuals about the state as a whole. The problem of individual rights and the related issue of the democratic organization of the government is a major political doctrine of Thomas Jefferson.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence is the first act in the history of the state proclaiming the idea (the doctrine) of the popular sovereignty, the basis of the national life. Out of the popular sovereignty comes the right of the people to revolt (the second doctrine) as well as the right of the establishment of the political form that pleases the people (the third doctrine). In case of abuse and violence by state authorities, the possibility to overthrow this government is not only a right but also the duty of the people (Becker, 1958).
The Fifth Question
The political ideal of Jefferson as a defender of the interests of small producers and farmers was a democratic republic. Under the democratic republic, Jefferson understood a political system in which the board is committed to the capabilities and possibilities of the citizens by themselves or through their elected representatives to exercise direct control of the state. Developing the ideas of Rousseau on the Sovereignty of the people in the republican form of government, Jefferson saw the manifestation of the power of the people in the reign of the voters will, in the expansion of the modalities of the participation of all citizens in the public affairs as well as in constant control over the work of state bodies by the people (Becker, 1958).
Jefferson believed in the state with a sufficient degree of socialization, which is devoted to caring for the general welfare. However, such a state existed only in the dreams of the utopians and T. Mohr. Therefore, on practice, Jefferson was inclined a state model of a free, equitable federation of states.
Despite these great ideas, the Declaration has a restrictive character. It did not determine the shape or the model of the future government; moreover, the principle of the natural rights of all people referred only to the descendants of the white men and did not apply to Indians.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence has not only explained the reasons which led the Americans to separate from the mother country. It was the first document in history which declared the principle of sovereignty as the basis of the government.
The U.S. Declarations terms argued for the right of the people to rise and overthrow an oppressive government. It proclaimed the basic ideas of democracy, the equality of people, and their inalienable rights. The Declaration was not only the birth certificate of the new state, but it also became the recognized monument of American literature: Jefferson succeeded in expressing the well-known principles and ideas using the great language in a concise and accessible way.