Compare the literary style of the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution of the United States.Explain why each was written in the style it was and how the authors wanted to affect their...

Compare the literary style of the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution of the United States.

Explain why each was written in the style it was and how the authors wanted to affect their readers.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was authored with the purpose of restating the grievances England's North American colonies had against King George and Parliament, juxtaposing those grievances with the lofty ideals of natural equality bestowed by a higher power:

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It would be remiss to overlook the irony of Jefferson's rhetoric, given that he owned multiple slaves, but in any case, he is probably most often remembered for the eloquent language with which he crafted this important (not to mention treasonous) document.  Jefferson's missive was practical, surely, but more importantly, it provided a poetic interpretation of ideas first brought forth by John Locke, ideas that were also explored by the Continental Congress during the time leading up to the American Revolution.  It was intended to stir emotions, and galvanize support for the coming revolution, and the choice of language reflects that. 

The Constitution, on the other hand, was written strictly as a legal and binding document that was intended to be a "living document" in that it provided means of amending it as would be necessary in future years.  With the exception of the semi-lyrical Preamble, the text of the Constitution is emotionless and steeped in legal language that is often less than interesting reading, as one might note in the following text of what is sometimes called the "elastic clause" and permits the following of Congress:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the [enumerated] Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.(Article I, Section 8, Clause 18).

So, simply put, the Declaration was a fundamental statement of principles written in language intended to inspire, and the Constitution is a legal document written to balance the rights of the states with the need for a central government, written with an eye toward creating something that would stand for the ages. 

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