How was the Declaration of Independence organized?

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pholland14's profile pic

pholland14 | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The Declaration of Independence can be divided into three parts, the first part of which is a statement on natural rights and where governments derive their power--from the consent of the governed.  It then moves on to give the people a right to revolution--"when a government becomes destructive of these ends..." namely "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness."  In the very next paragraph, Jefferson starts off with the word "prudence," implying that the colonists do not enter into this revolution lightly.  

The second part talks about the injustices inflicted on the colonies.  Jefferson refers to soldiers being quartered there in peacetime, attacks on American coastal areas, and unfair taxation practices.  By doing this, Jefferson is making the colonists appear as conquered people instead of British transplants in a new land.  

The last portion is where Jefferson proclaims the independence of the colonies.  He does not give any room for compromise--he says that this is the only recourse left to restore colonial rights.  

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

The Declaration of Independence is organized into five distinct segments with each segment addressing a particular issue. These segments are; the introduction, the preamble, the indictment of King George, the criticism of the British people and lastly, the conclusion.

In the introduction, Thomas Jefferson asserts that Natural Law and the God-given nature of man give him the power to possess political independence. The preamble avers the equality of all men and then highlights their God given rights that must not be denied under any circumstance. This segment also explains that the people have the power to vest power upon a system of governance whose role is to protect their rights. In the event that the established system of governance becomes destructive, the people have the power to dissolve it. The third segment lists down the myriad injustices the king of England has subjected the people of America to. In the fourth section, the people of Britain are criticized for turning a deaf ear to the plights of the Americans. Finally, the last section is a statement that the colonies are free and as such entitled to all the privileges enjoyed by sovereign states.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The Declaration of Independence in organized in three parts.  The first of these is the part that is most famous to us today.

In the first part of the Declaration, Jefferson lays out his philosophical argument.  He says that all men (his word) are born equal and with certain rights.  He says government must be by the consent of the people and that it must protect their natural rights.  He says any government that does not fit these criteria is illegitimate and may be overthrown.

In the second part of the Declaration, Jefferson lists ways that (in his view) the British government has violated the rights of the American colonists.  Since it has done this, they have the right to overthrow it and replace it.  In the third part of the Declaration, we see the actual statement that the colonies now consider themselves independent.

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