Question Sheet for the Declaration Activity (with answers) 1. Jefferson chose to begin the Declaration with the words, “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Do you feel this was necessary? Why or why not? Could the 13 colonies have declared independence if they were not unanimous? Why or why not? Answers will vary. Most students might note that it was necessary for Jefferson to prove that the Continental Congress presented a united front to the world in order to prove that independence was the true goal of the colonies. Others may state that since each state provided signers to the document, it was obvious that all thirteen colonies accepted it. As to the question of whether the 13 colonies could have declared independence if they weren’t unanimous, answers will vary. Most students might state that independence would be difficult without the support of all thirteen colonies, but some might say independence without consensus was still possible. For instance, colonies that objected could be absorbed into Canada or find a way to peacefully co-exist with those that seceded. 2. How does Jefferson explain the reason for a formal declaration of independence? Why do you think it was necessary for Jefferson to state the “causes which impel them to the separation”? Answers will vary. However, some students may note that other nations, such as France and the Netherlands, also had colonial interests in North America and may have been concerned if British colonists declared independence for groundless reasons. Also, because of Jefferson’s background as a lawyer, it might have also been true that he was building his case for independence before the world community, similar to what he might do if he were pleading a case before a jury. 3. Next, review the two sections of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. In your own words, how does Jefferson use Locke’s ideas in the preamble of the Declaration? Students will note similarities between...
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