Why Is The Declaration Of Independence Important

Why is the Declaration of Independence important?

Expert Answers
edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Declaration of Independence is an important example of a seminal document that helped to establish self-rule for America, and it is a model of effective rhetoric.

Jefferson utilizes both inductive and deductive reasoning in making his case for why the colonies are declaring their independence from England. 

Jefferson's deductive reasoning can be expressed as a syllogism:

Major premise: When governments become despotic, citizens have the right to abolish them.

Minor premise: England's rule over the colonies has become despotic.

Conclusion: The colonies have the right to abolish England's colonial government.

Later in the document, Jefferson uses inductive reasoning in reciting a litany of King George III's abuses of the colonies.  There are twenty-seven "abuses and usurpations" listed that enumerate specific reasons why the colonies must revolt. 

Other rhetorical techniques that Jefferson employs include appeals to ethos when he recalls the various negotiating techniques with which the colonies approached England. Jefferson also employs logos in the deductive reasoning expressed above in the syllogism. And finally, Jefferson appeals to pathos when he indicts King George III for "the works of death, desolation and tyranny" that are "totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you will find different answers to this question.  One particular reason as to why Jefferson's document is so important is because it represents the essence of why nations need to be free and possess self- determination.  To a great extent, Jefferson's document has become the template for so many nations that wish to chart a new course.  The idea of being able to articulate why the past condition needs a change and how the future will be better than it represents the very essence of all political articulation.  Jefferson's writing is so important because it asks the reader, the colonist of the time period or the modern reader, to see what is and demand what can be.  In this, the document captures both moral and political imagination and expands it.  In this, it is extremely important.  From an American Historical narrative point of view, the idea of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have become absorbed as part of this nation's mantra and fundamental creed.  For groups in America that have sought to articulate their own place in American Society, quoting Jefferson's document has been a form of imminent criticism, whereby being able to appropriate the American narrative as their own has resulted in a source of power being discovered.  It is for these reasons that I would see the document as important.

fact-finder | Student

The Declaration of Independence is important because it states that a government exists for the benefit of the people and that "all men are created equal." Adopted by the thirteen American colonies on July 4, 1776, the document is regarded as the best-written statement of individual rights in history. (The thirteen colonies were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.) In the Declaration of Independence the colonies not only declared their freedom from Great Britain, but they also addressed the reasons for the proclamation, naming the "causes which impel them to the separation." They cited the British government's violations of individual rights and went on to say that "the history of the present King George III of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations," which aimed to establish "an absolute Tyranny over these States."

The Declaration of Independence was prepared by a committee of the First Continental Congress, a meeting held in 1774 to formulate a response to attempts by the British Parliament (main governing body of Great Britain) to assert its control over the colonies. As chairman of the committee, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) wrote and presented the first draft of the document at a subsequent meeting, the Second Continental Congress, on July 2, 1776.

The most frequently quoted passage reads: "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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Further Information: Account of a Declaration. [Online] Available http://www.leftjustified.com/leftjust/lib/sc/ht/decl/home.html, October 26, 2000; Maier, Pauline. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. New York: Bantam Books, Incorporated, 1998; Quiri, Patricia Ryon. The Declaration of Independence. New York: Children's Press, 1999.

dwfieldsop | Student

The previous editor did a great job outlining the Declaration of Independence's role in stating American's beliefs in inherest rights.  Another reason that the Declaration of Independence is also important is that it was a call for foreign nations (namely France) to come to our aid in the fight against Great Britain.