Text Commentary of the Declaration of Independence
‘THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE THIRTEEN COLONIES’ (July4, 1776)
This is a text commentary about ‘The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America’. The Declaration of Independence is a juridical and legal document written sometime between June 11 and June 28, 1776. The reason for that lapse of time is because a draft of the declaration was asked to a group of five delegates of the Continental Congress on June 11, called ‘The Committee of Five’, consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, but it remains unknown when exactly was it drafted. Anyway, the draft was presented to the Continental Congress on June 28, so it was written down in only seventeen days. What is sure known is that that committee decided that Jefferson would be the man in charge of writing the first draft. So it’s possible to venture that it was written down in Thomas Jefferson’s dwelling while in Pennsylvania, although some passages of the text were corrected or varied by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams days before it’s final presentation on June 28, somewhere in Pennsylvania (maybe also in Jefferson’s). On the other side, it remains unknown whether Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston participated in the drafting or not, although they were appointed to. This document was made to put an end to the bad political relations between the United Kingdom and its colonies in America, which started to deteriorate since the end of the so-called ‘Seven Years’ War’ (known in the States as the French And Indian War) in 1763, a war between Great Britain and France in North America fighting for virgin territories between what’s now Canada and the USA. This war nearly doubled Britain's national debt. The Crown, seeking sources of revenue to pay off the debt, attempted to impose new taxes on its colonies, which we will enumerate later on in this commentary text. These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance, until troops were called in so that representatives of the Crown could safely perform their duties. These acts ultimately led to the start of the American Revolutionary War, a year before the signing of the Declaration, in 1775. This document is based basically in two documents written that very same 1776: the preamble of the Constitution of Virginia, and the Virginia Declaration of Rights, this late one written by George Mason, who’s considered the Father of the Bill of Rights, and, therefore, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. After taking a look at those legendary documents of the state of Virginia, one can read and extract ideas that later would appear in the Declaration of Independence, both of which pointing directly to the influential English Declaration of Rights of 1689 (so we can understand why the American Revolution is called a revolution, because many of the basic ideals came from the Glorious Revolution). The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence explains that independence itself must be followed by reasons, and that these reasons must be reasonable and, therefore, explicable. This same paragraph also refers to a “Natural law”, which is responsible for the rights every human should be born with, as a kind of recognizable right to decide and assume political independence when these natural facts are endangered. What Thomas Jefferson meant was that Americans had tolerated too many aggressions from the United Kingdom’s Parliament, to which they had asked so many times to have representation and the right to vote in the subjects related to them. Being scorned from the Parliament and from King George III again and again, Americans felt in need to separate in order to win equal station, and explain to the world in this document the reasons why they decided to separate to secure decent respect from other...
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