The Declaration of Independence was written for the colonists, to justify our call to arms, and for Britain’s enemies, to assure them of our intent.
Wolf Howling’s annual annotated Declaration of Independence
Update: Read the Declaration of Independence while you still can. Apparently Facebook recently censored a portion of its publication as “hate speech.”
Historical Commentary: In 1760, Britain was on the verge of finally defeating France in the Seven Years War, the economy was growing, and virtually every American colonist was proud to be a British citizen. Even as Britain, out of misplaced jealousy and greed, slowly tried to strangle its colonies over the next sixteen years, the majority of colonists still wanted nothing more than to remain in the British fold.
That finally changed among a bare majority of patriots after shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, in 1775, and after Thomas Paine published the most read pamphlet in American history, Common Sense, justifying rebellion against Britain. A decision had to be made, though it was not clear that we would declare independence until, after several votes and much debate, we voted to do so on July 2, 1776. The colonists themselves needed a sufficient reason to fight — to create a new nation that would be better than the old. And we needed foreign support, particularly from Britain’s long term enemies, France and the Netherlands. Both would only offer their support to us if we unequivocally proclaimed that our intent was to form a new nation. The Declaration of Independence was commissioned for those two audiences.
Everyone knows Jefferson’s preamble, a restatement of Locke’s natural rights theory that itself is founded on Christianity. It was the high water mark of the English Enlightenment. Jefferson’s preamble provided the philosophical basis for our rebellion and the creation of our new nation. [Read more…]