Why is the Declaration of Independence important?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not only does it state point-blank that we are no longer under the rule of the motherland, Britain, but it also lays the groundwork and foundation for our future government and how we, the People, agree to be lead by our elected officials.  The Americans involved in drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence were stretching their democratic wings and putting their necks out on the line (literally, for King George could have had them beheaded for treason) for the entire country and future generations.  They listed all the problems they had with the current government and all the complaints they had against the King.  Then they SIGNED it!!  It was a courageous act in the midst of a turbulant and unpredictable time.

The document is considered to be one of the best-written declarations.  Check out the link below for more information.

It is the document we go to when we study the history of our country, but also when we research the law.  Cases are tried fairly using the laws that came before, and they also sometimes are the reason new laws are added to the morphing, living document that our forefathers so painstakingly and carefully considered before putting it permanently on paper.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Declaration of Independence was not only notice served to the King of England that his colonies were no longer, it embodied principles of governance that had been philosophically debated during the course of the Enlightenment, notably by the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) and Charles Montesquieu (1689-1755). Indeed, Jefferson reworded much of Locke's concepts in writing the Declaration (see link below.) Principal among these was the idea that government derives it authority by the consent of the governed, and that if the governed saw fit to alter or abolish government, they not only had a "Natural Right" to do so, they had a moral obligation to act. In short, if you didn't like your government, you could change it!! This was a revolutionary concept in a day when most countries in the world operated under some form of the "Divine Right of Kings."  

eliz96 | Student

The Declaration of Independence asserted an independent sovereign power of the United States of America.  It enumerated the former colony's grievances with King George and Parliament's governance. The Declaration justified the former colony's ability to assert its soveignity because of Great Britian's violation of universal, democratic principles.  The Declaration even went as far to suggest that having recognized these violations, it was the "duty" of the States to revolt:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thomas Jefferson's Delcaration also set the tone for the new American spirit with his formative statement: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The Declaration of Independence and its author would influence the Constitution's Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man.


peanut11188 | Student

The Declaration of Independence is important because it balances the power of of government and it gurantees the rights and freedom's of it's citizens, however anti federalist feared it would lead to a strong powerful centralized government.

talon06 | Student

I personally feel like the Declaration of Independence is the single most important document in United States history.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Just read that first line.  In 1776, when it was written, these rights were in the process of completely being taken away from the colonists by Great Britain.  The colonists couldn't have these unalienable rights (rights that no man can take away) because while King George III was over a thousand miles away from the colonists, he still felt like he put the taxes and regulations that he did on the colonists.  The colonists had no representation in Parliament so how could their concerns be brought up.

This document was the United States' way of saying that "enough was enough and that we won't put up with it anymore."  Of course, this was written a year after the American Revolution had started, but it had the same effect. This powerful document wasn't just ink and parchment to the colonists, it was the ultimate goal and what they desired more than anything.

jazigirl123 | Student

i do not know i was wondering the same thing because i am home schooled and am in 5 th grade so than you guys for your wonderful answers

shandy1111 | Student

the declatation was important because io\t was needed to keep the government in shape. so that they wouldn't take advantage of the people in the u.s. it was also needed because the king of britain really did not lay of the u.s, with that in mind it was written to try help and protect the citizens of the states. keep in mind that if the declaration had not been written it would completely be bad for us.