Declaration of Independence and the textbook ‘Out of Many’
The Declaration of Independence had many roles when Jefferson drafted it, the main on being that of explaining why the colonies had chosen to separate themselves from Great Britain. The Revolutionary wars had begun and major battles had already taken place. After these, many of the American colonies established their own currency, armies, congress, and post office. On June 7th, 1776, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a resolution was put forward that United States should be completely free of England’s influence and all ties between the two severed. Congress agreed to Richard Henry Lee’s resolution and plans began to ratify an official Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson, the man chosen to draft this Declaration, did his job in one day assisted by a committee. In this committee were Roger Sherman, Robert Livingstone, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. In his work, Jefferson declared that a group of people had the right to change their government if they felt it was overbearing and unfair in its operations. In addition, he stated how governments failed the moment they lost favor in the eyes of the governed. After this, The Declaration of Independence was presented to the Continental Congress and approved.
The fifth grievance in The Declaration of Independence stipulates how the British government repeatedly dissolved Representative Houses after they challenged its invasion of human rights. After the Townsend Revenues Act of 1767 was passed, the British governments reserved the right to impose tax on various goods involved in the fast growing trade activities. Among these were glass, paper, lead and tea – important goods in those days. The main purpose of this act was to raise revenue to be used in paying governors and judges. The idea was not favorable to the local inhabitants of the American colony and rebellion began. The State of New York was punished for this reason and had its representative house dissolved. In addition, for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, this state suffered more punitive actions which led to the drafting of the Massachusetts Circular. The fifth grievance on The Declaration of Independence is based on these occurrences.
The seventeenth grievance on The Declaration of Independence is a cry over Britain’s imposition of taxes on the colonies without their consent. After the numerous wars Britain had taken part in left her broke, she tried to raise revenue by taxing her own people. This action was met with very harsh sentiment and some suggested that Great Britain tax its colonies. The Stamp Act of 1765 provides the best example of taxation processes that affected colonies yet they had not been involved in their formation nor accepted them. The Stamp Act stipulated that all colonial printed material was to appear on specially printed paper from England bearing the embossed revenue stamp. The main purpose of this was to generate revenue to increase supplies to troops in various battles Britain was involved. Unfortunately, colonies were not involved in the making of this decision hence the seventeenth grievance.
The Declaration of Independence provided a platform from which the colonies were able to articulate their quest and struggle for independence. Britain had imposed unfair laws on its colonies and their inhabitants forcing them to retaliate and seek independence. Perhaps the fact that it was drafted in a single day points at the urgency with which United States needed its independence.