During Jefferson's lifetime, what were the obstacles in creating the Declaration of Independence? With this in mind, how can Jefferson be seen as a hero?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most formidable obstacles that Jefferson faced in writing the Declaration of Independence is the articulation of freedom.  Jefferson had an overwhelming task in front of him as he had to communicate what Colonial freedom looked like.  It is always a challenge to write something that few envision. Prior to Jefferson's writing, the need to break free from England was not widely understood.  However, it became understood understood as a result of Jefferson's work.  Another overwhelming obstacle would be the risk that Jefferson undertook in writing the document.  Colonial independence was not openly accepted at the time as tensions with England were on the rise.  The risk of having to suffer for his writing was present and Jefferson seemed to accept it.  Finally, I would say that Jefferson's vision of freedom was not something immediately accepted by all of the Colonists.  The original draft of the Declaration of Independence called for an abolition of slavery. This was removed, as Southern colonies objected to its inclusion.  Such divergence in the understanding of colonial freedom represented a fundamental challenge that Jefferson had to face in the writing of the Declaration of Independence.  Freedom was not something easily envisioned and those who did see it viewed it in divergent approaches.  To write a document that was able to embrace something so complex and nuanced is to face down several challenges and obstacles.

If one were to consider Jefferson heroic for his contributions in writing the Declaration of Independence, it would reside in what it means to give voice.  Jefferson can be seen as a hero because he gives voice to a nation.  Prior to Jefferson's writing, Colonists were not able to fully grasp the need to break with England as clearly as they did afterwards.  The Declaration of Independence put forth the argument that the Colonists' human rights were being denied.  The issue might have been economic and political.  Yet, Jefferson made it out to be a human rights issue with the language employed in the document.  The justification of the need to break free from England on such a wide scale would be a reason why Jefferson could be seen as heroic.  He provides voice when it was absent, helping to carve out a national identity when it could not be foreseen.