In Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, Danielle Allen analyzes the Declaration of Independence as a text, arguing that it can be read in support of equality in today's America and that liberty and equality are not mutually exclusive. Various powerful quotes arise from Allen's close reading and analysis of the Declaration of Independence. I have included a few significant quotations below, but there are many more to be found in the book.
The Declaration does what it does, then—bravely giving birth to a new political entity—in four concrete steps: declaring reasons, presenting facts to witnesses, declaring independence, and making pledges. These are the parts that, taken together, assembled into a word machine of sorts—into a "piece of mechanism," to quote John Adams’s opponent—make something happen.
In this quote, Allen discusses why the Declaration of Independence is such an important document and analyzes how the structure of the document makes it a political force that does something powerful through its language. This is an important claim, as it justifies why it is important to dedicate so much time to analyzing this text.
Because we have accepted the view that there is a trade-off between equality and liberty, we think we have to choose. Lately, we have come, as a people, to choose liberty.
This quotation presents a central idea which Allen argues against in the book: that equality and liberty are mutually exclusive, or that each takes away from the other. Rather, she uses the Declaration of Independence to argue that equality and liberty can mutually support and enhance each other. This quote presents a key problem that Allen seeks to address.
Because of their impact on our memories, writers rule. They wield the instrument by which our world is organized.
Like the first quotation listed above, this quote speaks again to the power of words and language, and it explains the way in which a textual document like the Declaration of Independence can have a powerful impact on how the world around us is structured.
Again, these are just a few of many impactful quotations that express some of the main themes and ideas of Our Declaration.