University of XXXXX
February 16, 2013
Amendments to the United States Constitution
The Declaration of Independence was the creation of the Second Continental Congress. Before adjourning the first Continental Congress in October 1774, the delegates of that Congress agreed to reconvene the following May if the Parliament of Great Britain failed to address their grievances. Following the condemnation of Massachusetts and Suffolk Resolves by King George III on November 30, 1774, the need for Congress to reconvene became obvious (E Pluribus Unum, n. d.). Four and a half months later, on April 19, 1775, the Battle of Lexington began in Lexington, Massachusetts, marking the beginning of the Revolutionary war. On May10, 1775, Congress reconvened in Philadelphia. In addition to the original delegates, the Second Congressional Congress included Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Lyman Hall (Massachusetts Historical Society, 2008). Although the Declaration of Independence does not name an author, many consider Thomas Jefferson to be the author. The Declaration of Independence is composed of four basic elements, the preamble, the list of abuses, the petitions, and the declaration. The writings of John Locke greatly influenced Jefferson and Locke’s Two Treatises on Government written in 1690 inspired much of what he included in the preamble. In the preamble of the Constitution, the Jefferson explains the Congress’ collective philosophy of who should determine the governing officers of a nation, from whom those officers derive their power, and the necessity for overthrowing the current monarchal government of Great Britain. In the Declaration of Independence, the preamble suggests that a need exists for the American states to separate themselves from Great Britain. Jefferson explains the laws of nature and the laws of nature’s God entitled the States of America to equality among nations. Jefferson repeats and idea from Locke’s writing wherein he paraphrases Locke’s assertion that, ”creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal” (chapt. 2, § 4) by writing “all men are created equal” (para. 2). The preamble also asserts that their creator grants all men certain rights from which no power can separate them. Jefferson states that governments can only derive their power from those whom they govern, another repeat for Locke’s work (Patterson, 2009). At this point, Jefferson begins to focus on the wrongs of Great Britain. In the second half of the preamble, Jefferson suggests that the people have the right to alter or abolish any form of government if it becomes destructive and to develop a new form of government that will likely secure their happiness and security. Jefferson asserts that people likely will not change an established form of government over trivial matters or temporary situations. He states that people are inclined to continue tolerating the suffering to which they have become accustomed as long as the suffering remain tolerable. However, when tyrannical governing persists, the people have a duty to overthrow the governing entity and prove a new means for ensuring their future security. The preamble states that such conditions now exist for the colonies, which necessitates the alteration of the present system of government. Up to this point, Jefferson has worded the preamble in general terms. At his point however, he states absolutely that “the history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States” (para. 2). This is the point at which the Declaration of Independence identifies 27 specific abuses of which King George III is guilty. The 27 grievances listed in paragraphs 23 through 29 of the Declaration...