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Declaration Of Independence Research Essay Outline

The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress, states the reasons the British colonies of North America sought independence in July of 1776.

The declaration opens with a preamble describing the document's necessity in explaining why the colonies have overthrown their ruler and chosen to take their place as a separate nation in the world.

All men are created equal and there are certain unalienable rights that governments should never violate. These rights include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When a government fails to protect those rights, it is not only the right, but also the duty of the people to overthrow that government. In its place, the people should establish a government that is designed to protect those rights. Governments are rarely overthrown, and should not be overthrown for trivial reasons. In this case, a long history of abuses has led the colonists to overthrow a tyrannical government.

The King of Great Britain, George III, is guilty of 27 specific abuses. The King interfered with the colonists' right to self-government and for a fair judicial system. Acting with Parliament, the King also instituted legislation that affected the colonies without their consent. This legislation levied taxes on the colonists. It also required them to quarter British soldiers, removed their right to trial by jury, and prevented them from trading freely. Additionally, the King and Parliament are guilty of outright destruction of American life and property by their refusal to protect the colonies' borders, their confiscation of American ships at sea, and their intent to hire foreign mercenaries to fight against the colonists.

The colonial governments tried to reach a peaceful reconciliation of these differences with Great Britain, but were continually ignored. Colonists who appealed to British citizens were similarly ignored, despite their shared common heritage and their just cause. After many peaceful attempts, the colonists have no choice but to declare independence from Great Britain.

The new nation will be called the United States of America and will have no further connections with Great Britain. The new government will reserve the right to levy war, make peace, make alliances with foreign nations, conduct trade, and do anything else that nations do.

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Supporting Question What are the two big philosophical ideas in the Declaration of Independence?

Formative Task Summarize the two big philosophical ideas of national sovereignty and natural rights as described in part 1 of the Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Part 1 of the Declaration of Independence: Preamble

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Supporting Question What grievances did the colonists have with King George III?

Formative Task What grievances did the colonists have with King George III?

Sources Source A: Part 2 of the Declaration of Independence: Grievances

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Supporting Question How does the Declaration of Independence make an argument for independence?

Formative Task Rewrite the argument made by the colonists in the Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Part 3 of the Declaration of Independence: Conclusion

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Supporting Question How do declarations of independence from other countries in the Western Hemisphere compare with the United States Declaration of Independence?

Formative Task Compare the approaches used in one or more countries in the Western Hemisphere to declare independence with the approach used in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Sources Source A: Table of independence declarations in Latin America
Source B: Source packets: Declarations of independence material for Haiti, Venezuela, and Mexico

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