What powers did the Declaration of Independence have in government?  

Expert Answers
rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Declaration of Independence did not really have powers of government. It did not create a new government in the same way the Articles of Confederation or the United States Constitution did. What it did, however, was to declare the colonies separate from Great Britain. This paved the way for the formation of new state governments (indeed, this was one reason some of the revolutionaries thought it so urgent to declare independence in the first place). Until independence was declared, state governments could not be legitimately established, and most states were controlled by revolutionary committees. After the Declaration, each state held conventions that established state governments. So in this sense, the Declaration had the power to make it possible for governments to be established. Some have argued that the Declaration provided a sort of statement of principles for a new national government, but in reality, much of the Declaration's core principles had already been stated by the states in their instructions to the delegates to the Second Continental Congress. As Jefferson himself said, the document was intended to be more of an "expression of the American mind" than a charter for a new government.