Notes on the Declaration of Independence
Jefferson was a quiet man, not a big speaker. He would not
be able to become president today. He was picked to write the “Declaration”
because his quietness had kept him from making any enemies among the convention.
He also happened to be a genius and wrote the draft of the declaration.
The first paragraph says that we are going to rebel against England
and use this document as a public relations tool to tell the world and
those in the colony why we want independence. This section becomes
widely quoted in revolutions and history.
“We hold these truths to be self evident.” This is the language
of mathematics. In geometry we can not prove, but must accept simple
postulates. The need for independence actually lacks self-evidence,
limiting support for America’s independence.
“That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Government comes
from the people and if the government stops being what the people want,
it can be undone. The constitution provides a provision to change
the constitution if the need arises - we can make amendments and even call
a Constitutional Convention to make a new Constitution.
Revisions made to Jefferson’s draft are represented by underlines.
The most significant section taking from Jefferson’s draft was concerning
slavery. Those who still depended economically on slavery were not
willing to give it up. The institution of slavery was finally wiped
out by the Civil War which cost America more lives than all other wars
combined. The signed document meant that no one was above the law,
but it still left slaves, Indians, and women below the law. Achieving
the idea that all men are created equal would be a long drawn out process.
People did not just want to make money, they also desired spiritual values
and economical values.