The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson with some editing by a committee on style which stated why the united colonies (later States) believed that they were and of right should be free and independent of Great Britain. It has several components:
- The Preamble states that propriety makes it necessary to explain why the Declaration is necessary.
- That all men are created equal and are equally endowed with certain rights. Jefferson called them "unalienable." This is a direct reference to John Locke's argument that all men had certain "natural rights." Locke called them Life, Liberty, and Estate (or property.) Jefferson changed the last to "the pursuit of happiness."
- Men created governments to protect their rights; however if the government which men had created no longer protected those rights, then the people had the right to change that government. He also comments that this change should not be taken lightly.
- The government of Great Britain had failed to protect the rights of the people of the United States. He provides a lengthy list of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
- Next follows the statement that although the people of the United States had petitioned Britain for redress, none was forthcoming.
- They therefore were and of right were free and independent states.