The Declaration of Independence was written in order to clarify and justify the actions of The Second Continental Congress, which was to assume the powers of an offical government. The colonists' saw themselves as Englishmen, with all the rights of Englishmen. However, after numerous usurptions the colonists contested the violations of the Parliament based upon English liberty. The Declaration of Independence combined purpose with principle. In June 1776 the Congress of the united colonies appointed five delegates to produce a formal written declaration of independence, after several weeks Thomas Jefferson completed the draft.It was written to King George III and the world to read. Think about it, a public statement affirming the tyranny of the English King and a testament to the hypocrisy of the English Parliament.
It had three purposes;
1. a theory of government
2. a list of complaints
3. a declaration of war
Jefferson also included principles of 'Enlightment' thought
1. 'all men are created equal'
2. born with inalienable rights from the God, not the king among them 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' (Jefferson clearly bases this statement on John Locke's, Life, Liberty, Property theory)
3. Governments are instituted among men, not the other way around, thus the notion of the 'consent of the governed'
4. If a government did not act on behalf of the people, the people had a right to abolish or alter the government to their just needs