Why is the Declaration of Independence one of the most important documents in human history?

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The iconic status of the Declaration is due to several factors involving the inherent qualities of the document, the historical context in which it appeared, and the subsequent history of the world.

It's ironic that most of the document deals with specific charges made against the British king rather than the universal precepts it enunciates. In my view the essential passages are the first two paragraphs, and the last paragraph. The Declaration states simply and directly the liberal worldview that people are equal and free, and that no government has the right to control others by interfering with their freedom or with their attempts to act as they choose and to flourish. This brief paraphrase lacks the eloquence of Jefferson's prose, and this leads us to the second factor about the document's greatness: it's well written, in a supercharged, poetic style.

Just as with Shakespeare, the way ideas are expressed, the words chosen, are as important as the ideas themselves. The principles espoused by Jefferson and Congress were not new. The liberal ideas of government were expressed by the Enlightenment philosophers from John Locke forward. But the Declaration is an encapsulation of Enlightenment thinking, a microcosm of the new way in which mankind had begun to view itself. The crucial juncture of that moment in time, in which progressivism began to be put into practice, endowed the Declaration with the semi-mythic status it still holds today.

Had the history of the world gone differently at this point, posterity's way of viewing these words could have been quite different. Thirteen years to the month after the document was completed and approved, the French Revolution began. The fact that France had facilitated American independence, the fact that Jefferson was present in Paris in 1789 and had a close friendship with French revolutionary Lafayette, and the fact of the Declaration as the model of a written statement that would serve as a democracy's founding document, all worked together to transform it from a merely local and specific list of grievances (overlaid with a philosophical message) into a universal creed for humanity. Most people would agree mankind is in a better place collectively now, despite its still massive flaws, than it was 230 years ago. Eventually slavery was eliminated in America, serfdom eliminated in Europe, and the old ancien régime of the European political system would be superseded by democracy or quasi-democracy, despite the periodic setbacks that occurred once and again, like dips in an overall ascending line on a graph.

Admittedly this is a narrow way of conceptualizing history, but it's at least partly true that the improvement that has occurred in the world, despite the enormous flaws and the catastrophes that have continued into our own time, is a real-life projection of the ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration provided the new country "brought forth on this continent" with a kind of thesis regarding what America, and by extension the world, would base itself on, regardless of how imperfectly its ideals have been achieved in practice.

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The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It is one of the most important documents that humankind has ever produced due to its short term and long term effects on history, society, and governance.

First of all, the Declaration was of great importance in the era of the American Revolutionary War. Finalized after the initiation of war between the colonies and Great Britain, it served as a formal announcement to the world that the colonies no longer considered themselves part of the kingdom of Great Britain and no longer under British rule. It included a list of grievances against King George III and his government that in the minds of the colonists justified their rebellion. Additionally. it functioned as a rallying cry to the colonists, pleading them join the rebellion. The authors also used it as a worldwide call for allies against the British. It helped to legitimize the struggle of Americans for freedom and ultimately assisted them in the creation of the fledgling nation of the United States of America, which now, of course, is a world power.

The Declaration of Independence is also important because its reasoning for the right of independence rests on an ethical foundation. This is evidenced in its preamble:

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.

This is a justification of freedom and democracy and an assertion that people have the right to a government of their choice which has served as an inspiration not only for the American struggle for independence, but also for rebellions in other parts of the world. For instance, important figures in the French Revolution were inspired by this document, as were key leaders in the fight for freedom of South American countries against Spain.

Finally, the U.S. Declaration of Independence sets ideal standards of freedom and democracy that have not yet been reached, not even in the United States. When the document was written, the equality it uplifted did not apply to all colonists. For example, women were not considered equal to men, and some of the members of the Continental Congress were slaveholders, including the main writer Thomas Jefferson. At that time, the phrase "all men are created equal" meant all male white men. Even now, the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees equal rights for women, has not yet been added to the U.S. Constitution. So the Declaration of Independence offers guidance towards an ideal that has not yet been attained.

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There were several reasons why the Declaration of Independence was one of the most important documents in human history. First, the Declaration of Independence led to the Revolutionary War. When the United States won this war, one of the greatest countries in the world was created. The United States has had a very significant impact on the world. Second, the Declaration of Independence laid out a format for how and why a country should declare its independence. The Declaration of Independence states that if a country wants to be free, it should explain to the world why it wants to be free. Additionally, the Declaration of Independence referenced rights that all people have. These rights, the unalienable rights, include life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence states that one of the jobs of government is to protect the rights of the people it governs. When government fails to do this, then people must change the government. These are ideas are central to any revolution. Finally, the Declaration of Independence has served as a model for other countries and their quest for independence. For these reasons, the Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents ever written in human history.

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