What is the structure of the Declaration of Independence? Is it divided into smaller sections, with each section having a special purpose?
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The Declaration begins with a short introductory statement called the Preamble that explains the reason for the document, which is to "declare the causes" that have created the need for the colonies to "dissolve the political bands" with England and reinvent itself as an independent nation.
The second section begins with a list of "truths" that the persons being represented by the Declaration consider to be "self-evident." This list sets out rights, or ends, that all people should expect to be granted and states the rights people have when those rights are not honored.
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.
The section leads into the next, which is the "long train of abuses and usurpations" that have driven the people to now take action and create a new government for themselves. This is justification of the revolution, explaining to the world all the wrongs that have been committed against the colonies.
After listing the "facts" regarding the ways in which the colonies have been treated, the fourth section of the Declaration goes on to detail the ways in which the colonies have responded to these actions, trying to help the Parliament and King understand the error and injustice of their actions, saying there was no lack of "attentions to our Brittish brethren."
We have warned them...We have reminded them...We have appealed...we have conjured them
All these efforts have fallen on "deaf" ears, forcing the colonies to finally take the drastic measures being announced in the Declaration.
The final paragraph summarizes the action being announced. It states that "the Representatives of the united States of America" by
Authority of the good People of these Colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown
Part of this fifth section goes on to list specific functions that the new government has the power to carry out as a new nation establishing itself among the other nations of the world. The final sentence confirms the promise of mutual "support of this Declaration" among those signing the Declaration.
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