What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and what does the Declaration of Independence signify?

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The immediate purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to formalize the American Revolution. This was a document simultaneously aimed towards Great Britain, towards the larger European community of nations, and towards the colonists themselves. It announced the colonies' decision to seek independence from Britain.

Speaking beyond the immediate revolution towards the longer span of American history, the Declaration of Independence represents one of the fundamental founding documents of American political thought (as well as one of the key documents within the history of modern democracy). It advanced the core fundamental principles on which American political traditions would rest (principles which include the primacy of natural rights and the idea that government must be based in the consent of the governed). In so doing, it has exercised tremendous influence across American history.

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The Declaration of Independence had both a utilitarian and patriotic purpose. It declared war on the founder of the colonies, King George, and Great Britain. It also listed a series of abuses the revolutionaries felt the King had subjected them to. More than those things, it was an eloquent and powerful document full or rhetoric that inspired people to fight for their new country.
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The Declaration of Independence reads like an indictment - a list of charges - against the King of England.  It's a long list, and I think it was not only meant to justify, to ourselves, the King and the world the reasons for our separation from Britain, but also as a condemnation of monarchy period.  The abuses of power the document lists are common to all monarchies, for the most part, and one of the reasons the Declaration has been so heralded in our history, by Americans and others, is its clear, compelling, eloquent break with past governmental practice.  It defines the beginning of a new chapter in human history.  Not bad for a 33 year old lawyer Thomas Jefferson, huh?

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I do not disagree with what the first answer says, but I would argue that the purpose of the Declaration was not merely to inform people of why the American colonies were trying to become independent of Great Britain.  Instead, it is a work of public relations -- it is a document that is meant to make people dislike Great Britain and support the colonies.

I say this because much of the document is devoted to a list of complaints about the King.  These complaints are put in ways that are clearly meant to persuade an audience that the King is really in the wrong.  They are not meant to inform an audience as to both sides of what was really a very complex story in which both sides could be blamed for the problems that occurred.

Because of this, I see the Declaration as more of a press release than a document meant solely to inform.

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The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to explain to the whole world why the thirteen British colonies were seeking to start their own country.  The Declaration of Independence signifies some of the principles and ideas of the founding fathers which the government of the United States follows today.  First, the Declaration states that all people are equal, and what makes them equal is the fact that all are born with certain rights that cannot be taken away.  Next, it states that governments are formed to protect these rights.  If governments do not do their job, then it is the right of the people to start a new government.

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