Evaluate the extent to which the Declaration of Independence marked a turning point in American history. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Declaration of Independence formalized and made explicit the abuses of King George III and the British Parliament with regard to the American colonies and codified the plan for an independent United States of America.

The document, drafted by Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson,...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Declaration of Independence formalized and made explicit the abuses of King George III and the British Parliament with regard to the American colonies and codified the plan for an independent United States of America.

The document, drafted by Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, enabled the former American colonies to think of themselves as a nation, and thus the Revolutionary War became a military contest between nations instead of a civil insurrection that Britain needed to contain.

The argument that the colonies should not pay exorbitant taxes to a government that gave them no voice in Parliament was compelling to many American colonists and fueled the war effort as colonists realized their country could not expand economically as subjects of Britain. The Declaration decried the idea that a smaller and remote nation should determine the fate of a growing and diversifying nation capable of democratic self-rule. The idea that fighting for increased rights as subjects of Britain was relatively quickly supplanted with a fight for complete independence. Because George III became increasingly hostile toward the colonies by sending troops and naval vessels to occupy the colonies while continuing to deny them a voice in their own destiny, public opinion shifted toward a desire for a complete break with its sovereign.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Declaration of Independence marked a turning point in the history of the United States. Prior to the Declaration of Independence, the Americans were still part of the British Empire and were still British citizens. Because the colonists believed the British government repeatedly violated their rights and freedoms, a movement for independence began to grow in the colonies. However, it was one thing to talk about independence; it was quite another thing to declare independence. After colonial blood was shed at the Boston Massacre and the Battle of Lexington-Concord, more people believed independence was the way to go.

By declaring independence from Great Britain, the colonists created a new country called the United States of America. The Americans would first have to fight for their freedom in the Revolutionary War. The Americans also had to do many things, including establishing their own government, developing their own laws, creating a monetary system, and forming their own military. The Americans could no longer count on the British to do any of these things for them any longer.

By declaring independence, the Americans stated to the world that they had created their own country and that other countries should now deal with the government of the United States of America.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team