Why was the Declaration of Independence written?

The Declaration of Independence was written to declare the colonies' separation from Britain and the assumption of autonomy by the colonies. The Declaration also presented a theory of government, expressed the colonists' desire to build a government based on democracy, and detailed and condemned British tyranny and the hypocrisy of the British Parliament.

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The Declaration of Independence was written by American colonists to communicate their rebellion against the kingdom of Great Britain. There were several reasons for writing this document and declaring the independence of the American colonies. The primary reason was the failure of Great Britain to recognize the natural rights of the colonists.

This often took an economic form, such as the imposition of taxes without the political representation of the colonists. The colonists sought to resist legislation that they perceived to be oppressive. These laws included the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767.

In addition, the Declaration of Independence was written after the American colonists were already engaged with Great Britain militarily. Specifically, the Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord of 1775. Therefore, the Declaration of Independence was an official communication that reflected the existing military struggle between the colonies and the Crown.

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It was created as a response to Great Britain overtaxing the colonists, so the founding fathers decided to send a declaration to King George declaring that America would be free, and that was the cause of the American Revolution.  It was a document that expressed the ideals of the colonists and the desire to have their own government built on democratic ideals.  This document would also be the basis for the U.S. Constitution, which is still the law of the land today.

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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

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The Declaration of Independence was written for two reasons. First, as the name suggests, it was intended to declare the independence of Britain's North American colonies from their mother country. The colonies had been at war with Britain since April of 1775, and after much debate, the advocates for independence in the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia had won out. The Declaration was thus a statement of the intent of these delegates, and the assemblies that chose them, to set out on their own as an independent nation. It transformed the Revolutionary War from a struggle over the rights of Englishmen to a war to free the colonies from British rule. The Declaration, however, had another major purpose. It was to state the ideological principles and the perceived British abuses that motivated the colonists in the first place. In the first part of the document, Thomas Jefferson outlines the purpose of government, which, he says, echoing John Locke, is to protect the unalienable rights of man. He goes on to say that, when governments abuse these rights, people have the right to "alter or abolish" the offending government. This, the document explains, is why the colonists took up arms, and why they are declaring independence. The document goes on to list a series of "injuries and usurpations" suffered by the colonists that, the signers asserted, justified their actions. For these reasons, the Declaration was written, signed, and promulgated throughout the colonies.

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With the onset of hostilities between the colonists and England, the First Continental Congress had initially attempted to make amends with England. In order to maintain peace, the First Continental Congress constructed the Olive Branch Petition, and sent this document to King George. In the petition, the leaders at the First Continental Congress reminded King George that the American colonies were loyal to England. At the same time, the colonists, as loyal British subjects, felt as though they were being mistreated, and the petition outlined many grievances the colonists felt they had endured. This petition went unanswered by King George, and the list of grievances against England expanded. War with England became imminent, and the Declaration of Independence outlined 28 total grievances the colonists had with England. The finality of the document expressed the colonists’ wishes to govern themselves outside of British authority. After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, war with England became imminent, and the signers of the document were all committing treason against England.

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The Declaration of Independence was written for two main reasons.  It was written to announce to the world that the American colonies were breaking away from the United Kingdom and it was written to explain their actions so that they could gain support in their cause.

One of the reasons that the Declaration was written is made clear by the title that we have given it.  We call it the Declaration of Independence because it was written to declare that the American colonies now considered themselves to be independent.  It was, in essence, an announcement to the world.

However, if the colonists had simply wanted to announce their independence, they could have written a one-sentence declaration.  They did not need to write such a long document.  They did write a long document, though, and they did so because they wanted to persuade people that their cause was just.  The men who wrote the Declaration knew that they were going to need support in their quest for independence.  They were going to need support from as many of the colonists as they could get and they were going to need support from foreign countries.  One way to get that support was by persuading people that the United Kingdom was treating the colonies in an unjust manner and that it was morally correct for the colonies to break away.  This is why the Declaration sets out a theory of what government is for and when it can be overthrown.  It is also why the Declaration lists a series of allegations against the King of England, claiming that he has mistreated the colonies. 

Thus, the Declaration of Independence has two main purposes.  It is meant as a simple announcement of intent and as a means of gaining support for the cause of independence.

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