The Declaration of Independence

by Thomas Jefferson

Start Free Trial

What is the purpose of the Declaration of Independence? 

Expert Answers

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

The Declaration of Independence was penned by a committee of representatives within the second Continental Congress. The entire Congress signed the final document after it went through several levels of editing and review.

Throughout the American Revolutionary War, the colonies slowly began to pull away from their ties with Great Britain. They formed their own congress, postal service, military, and currency. In June 1776, Richard Henry Lee suggested to the other members of congress that they should formally state their intention to establish an independent nation, and the concept for the declaration was born.

The purpose of the document was to indicate to Great Britain that they would no longer consider themselves under British rule. Furthermore, the document aimed to explain the many reasons that the colonies felt independence was their best, and only, choice. Among those reasons were the fact that Great Britain had failed to look out for the citizens in the colonies, and that they needed their own government to protect them.

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

There were several purposes of the Declaration of Independence. The main purpose was for the colonists to let Great Britain and the rest of the world know that were free from British rule. This declaration stated that we considered ourselves an independent country. We wanted the other countries in the world to know they could now make various agreements with us.

Another purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to explain to everybody why we were declaring independence. We explained that we believed the job of government is to protect the rights of the citizens that it is governing. We believed that if a government stopped protecting the rights of the people, the people had to remove the government and replace it with a new government that would protect the people’s rights. The Declaration of Independence went on to say all the things the King of England had done that were in violation of the rights of the colonists. Thus, we had no choice but to replace the government after attempts to resolve our differences with Great Britain failed to work.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team