What reasons did the Founding Fathers give for their decision to write out a declaration?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The reason for which the Founding Fathers decided to write the Declaration of Independence can be found at the very beginning of the document.  They wrote the Declaration as a way to explain themselves to the world.  They said that, if a group wanted to break away from their country

...a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Founders would have wanted to do this for one main reason.  They would have wanted the people of the world (both at home and in Europe) to support them.  They would have hoped that colonists would take their side and that people in England would as well.  They hoped that their explanation would convince enough people that the British would give them more autonomy and they would not have to fight for independence.

favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The founding fathers wrote, in their Declaration of Independence from England, that the basis of the document is their belief that "all men are created equal" and that each man is granted, by God, a set of "inalienable rights": "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  The purpose of government, they wrote, is to protect these rights, and such a government can only maintain power when it has "the consent of the governed."  In other words, then, the British government no longer had the consent of the colonies it governed because it did not do a sufficient job of safeguarding these inalienable rights, and this is one major reason that the founding fathers wrote their declaration. 

Further, they argue that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."  Thus, it is their right, even their duty, to change or overthrow a government that no longer serves these ends; a government that does not work to secure the safety and happiness of those it governs must be abolished, and a new one must be created.  Writing the declaration gave them an opportunity to outline this logic. 

Likewise, another reason to write the declaration was to clarify and defend their belief that "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States."  They detail a lengthy list of this king's infractions: the ways in which he has failed to protect their rights.  Writing the declaration gave them the chance to clearly present their argument regarding the king's tyranny and his failure to promote their inalienable rights.

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

The war against Britain was inevitable, so the Founding Fathers decided to formally separate the nation from the British. The writing of the Declaration was meant to communicate their intentions and seek support from their allies. The British Army was still very strong and American unity was necessary if they were to liberate themselves. The declaration was also important to morally justify their intentions and actions to the world. This is because the government was being rejected by the governed, rendering it unjust and making it necessary for the British to consider American independence. The leadership of Britain was becoming oppressive to its colonies, and, as stated in the document, this relationship had to be severed.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government".


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