What are the three main parts of the Declaration of Independence?

Expert Answers
davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three most important sections of the Declaration of Independence collectively represent an argument encased in a logical, dialectical structure that culminates in a synthesis. What does this mean? Simply that the Declaration embodies a particular kind of dynamic thought process that goes through various contradictions but transcends them to arrive at a conclusion.

So the first of the three main sections is a declaration of natural rights. The signatories of the Declaration believe that they are possessed of inalienable rights, granted to them by God, and which they hold merely by virtue of being human. This could be described as the document's thesis, or mission statement, if you will. This is the theoretical basis of the Founding Fathers' demands.

Then we have an extensive list of grievances. Here, the colonists' leaders set out the various governmental and legal abuses they believe have been carried out by King George III and his administration. This section is the antithesis of the Declaration, as the actions of the British government are completely opposed to respecting the colonists' innate natural rights.

Finally, we have the resolution in which the colonists explicitly declare their independence from the mother country. The last section is a synthesis of the previous two. This means that its argument contains elements of both the thesis (that all men are possessed of natural rights) and the antithesis (that the British have violated those rights). In order to protect the natural rights with which they believe themselves endowed, the colonists will now make the final break with Britain.


rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first part of the Declaration of Independence is probably the most famous and certainly the most often-quoted. It might be called a "statement of purpose," because in it Jefferson and the signers declared the reason for the document, which was to explain their justifications for declaring independence from Great Britain. However, it also included the statement of the unalienable rights of men, which included "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and a brief explanation of the social contract theory upon which the Declaration was based. Essentially, the Declaration states that the purpose of government is to preserve the fundamental rights of man, and that when governments fail to protect these rights, the people have the right to overthrow them.

The second part of the Declaration is a long list of grievances against King George. These grievances range from the King's refusal to approve beneficial laws passed by colonial legislatures  to his attempts to incite "merciless Indian savages" to attack the colonists during the preceding year. Each of these accusations was intended to show that the King violated the social contract described in the first part, and that the colonies thus had the right to declare independence.

Finally, the third part is an actual declaration of independence. The signers and the people they represented declared that all political connections between themselves and Great Britain were "dissolved," and that the colonies were now "independent states."