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It fell to Jefferson, as part of a five-man committee, to explain and justify this momentous decision.Jefferson’s use of the word “impel” is significant, as is his use of “necessary.” Jefferson didn’t feel the need to justify the Lockean principles expressed in the second paragraph, since he believed they were ), many of these Americans were either undecided about independence or opposed it outright.
When taking the nation’s founding document and the intent of its framers into acount, the modern liberal notion that images of God and other references to Deity are opposed to liberty and should be removed from public buildings is ludicrous at best and treasonous at worst. Feel free to share your own thoughts by in the comments.
Among the controversies generated by the Declaration’s second paragraph two stand out as especially contentious: (1) Thomas Jefferson’s use of “self-evident” to characterize “these truths” expressed in the second paragraph, and (2) the omission of the right to property in the list of inalienable (or unalienable) rights. (1) It would surprise some people to learn how much scholarly attention has been devoted to analyzing what Jefferson meant by “self-evident.” Morton White ( (1996).
The United States Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration announced that the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain would regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule.
We now return to the original question that has generated a cottage industry for historians and philosophers: What did Jefferson mean by “self-evident”?
One good thing about writing overviews of complex subjects is that I can plead space limitations to avoid getting bogged down in technicalities.
The British government’s infringement upon the colonists’ God given rights include preventing the passing of laws that promote the common good, calling legislative assemblies at places designed to prevent colonial leaders from attending, the dissolution of representative bodies of governments, the presence of standing armies in times of peace, the harassment of colonists by British officials, establishing unfair trade laws, denying colonists a fair trial, waging war against the colonies, and the impressment of American sailors into the British Navy.
In addition to the list of grievances, Jefferson and his committee assert that the colonists have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction with their treatment and that the British have done nothing about it.
The Declaration was addressed as much to these people as it was to “mankind” at large.
Jefferson wished to convince fence-sitters and skeptics that independence was not a reckless scheme hatched by hotheaded, seditious radicals who were eager to grab power for themselves.