The July 4, 1776, Declaration of Independence document authored by the US Congress is undeniably one of the most important historical primary sources in the US (link: http://cdn.loc.gov/service/ll/uscode/uscode1952-00100/uscode1952-001000004/uscode1952-001000004.pdf). The document says that human beings are equal, and it is God’s plan that all people enjoy freedom. The document further says that God has granted every human being the right to life, liberty, and the search for happiness. It goes on to say that governments are created by people and that governments exercise power on behalf of the people. As such, the people have a right to change or do away with a government if they feel that it is not observing the foregoing rights. Similarly, the document argued that when the government oppresses its people just like the British government was oppressing the people of the 13 states, then the people have a right to overthrow such a government.
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In light of the above, the document accuses the King of Great Britain of many injustices. In this regard, the Congress accused the King of declining to assent to laws meant for the public interest. They also accused him of preventing Governors from passing important laws. Further, the King is said to have declined to enact laws for the accommodation of large districts. He is also said to have blocked immigration laws, obstructed justice, blocked trade with other nations, imposed unlawful taxes, suspended the legislature among other accusations. Consequently, Congress declared that it was free from any association with the British Crown, and as such, declaring the US as an independent state.
The document is important because it marked a vital milestone in the long-standing struggle between the North American British colonies and the British government as well as the struggles between whites and black slaves. Slave trade was a thriving business in the late 18th century as millions of Africans were transported from Africa to North and South America ('British North America Reader” par.9). However, Africans resisted slavery from the onset, and some preferred to commit suicide by diving into the water while in transit ('Olaudah Equiano Describes the Middle Passage” par.2). The declaration of independence was a great reprieve to them. Equally, the struggles between settlers and British colonizers date back to the 1600s. For instance, the desire for freedom is visible in Robert Horne's letter of 1666, whereby he expresses his desire to recruit English settlers to join him in the colony of Carolina. Horne believed that freedom would be found in the new colony because the settlers would have the right to choose their leaders ('Recruiting Settlers to Carolina” par.6). Later, in the 1740s, John Locke published two key papers that influenced the way people in the colonies viewed the government. Evangelists such as George Whitefield also challenged people to take personal responsibilities for their lives. Ideally, Whitefield and Locke empowered people to think critically and to question those in power. By the 1760s, the North American colonies and Britain were moving in diverging ways both politically and economically ('Colonial Society Reader” par.1). This was evident as the colonies increasingly opposed the punitive laws set by the British colonizers. For instance, the colonies resisted the Stamp Act of 1765, which sought to double tax merchants. In the same year, parliament had enacted the Anti-Stamp Act of 1765. Other attempts to impose taxes were also resisted by the colonies (THE AMERICAN YAWP par.8). Sarah Knight, a Boston trader, the narration of her journeys also paints the picture of the diversion of the American economy characterized by the consumer revolution and socio-economic inequalities ('Boston Trader Sarah Knight” par.1). Eliza Lucas letters also reveal the economic revolution that occurred in the US in the 18th century. Whereas she notes that life in the US was much like in England, she preferred the US because of the freedom and the opportunity to do business while in America ('Eliza Lucas Letters” par.2).
Ideally, even though the declaration of independence did not give America overnight independence considering that Britain was not willing to let go yet, it was an important and inspirational step taken by the US Congress in their quest for freedom. The declaration gave the residents of the colonies the impetus to continue fighting for their freedom, and ultimately the US attained independence.
- 'Boston Trader Sarah Knight on Her Travels in Connecticut, 1704 Reader.' The American Yawp, www.americanyawp.com/reader/colonial-society/boston-trader-sarah-knight-on-her-travels-in-connecticut-1704/.
- 'British North America Reader.' The American Yawp, www.americanyawp.com/reader/british-north-america/.
- 'Colonial Society Reader.' The American Yawp, www.americanyawp.com/reader/colonial-society/.
- 'Eliza Lucas Letters, 1740-1741 Reader.' The American Yawp, www.americanyawp.com/reader/colonial-society/eliza-lucas-letters-1740-1741/.
- 'Olaudah Equiano Describes the Middle Passage, 1789The American Yawp Reader.' www.americanyawp.com/reader/british-north-america/olaudah-equiano-describes-the-middle-passage-1789/.
- 'Recruiting Settlers to Carolina, 1666The American Yawp Reader.'