The Declaration of Independence Questions and Answers
by Thomas Jefferson

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What are the key arguments that Thomas Jefferson makes for the colonies' separation from Great Britain?

Some key arguments that Thomas Jefferson makes for the colonies' separation from Great Britain are that the colonists have suffered a violation of economic and political rights and that Great Britain has, in general, not respected them.

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In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (along with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and other members of a committee assigned to prepare this seminal document) knew that he had to present a solid legal and moral foundation upon which to build support for secession from the British Crown. Independence from Great Britain was not universally supported, and Jefferson recognized the importance of presenting the case for independence in a cogent, persuasive manner. While many Americans are familiar with the opening passages of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, many are less familiar with the lengthy list of grievances to which Jefferson refers in arguing for the revolutionary movement taking shape among the colonies.

Jefferson prefaces his list of grievances against the British Crown by addressing the issue of independence in universal terms. It is this eloquent preface in which one finds the immortal words that most Americans remember:

We hold these truths to...

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If you take a look at the Declaration of Independence, the middle section is a list of grievances that Jefferson writes Great Britain has committed. Jefferson leads into this by talking about what rights people have (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), and that the purpose of Government is to protect these rights. Jefferson states that the King of Great Britain has continuously failed to do so, and therefore, it is the job of the citizens to replace the ruler.

A few of the offenses Jefferson charges the monarchy with are:

"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them."

"He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only."

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."

Those lines, and more, all are related to the main idea that the British Crown is not doing what is best for the people of the colonies and is failing to give them a voice. Thus, the colonists must act.