civics essay

Submitted By skyebirdgg
Words: 531
Pages: 3

The declaration of independence, which the Second Continental Congress adopted on July 4th 1776, proclaimed the thirteen American colonies independent from Great Britain and provided an explanation and justification. Although it was first drafted as a revolutionary manifesto, later generations came to honor the Declaration less for its association with independence than for its assertion that "all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," among which are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," individual rights that went unmentioned in the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The thirteen British colonies of mainland North America moved toward independence slowly. The colonists were proud of being British and had no desire to be separated from their mother country with which they were united, as John Dickinson put it in his popular newspaper "by religion, liberty, laws, affections, relation, language and commerce." Not even the outbreak of war at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on 19 April 1775 produced calls for independence.

The king did not formally answer to the petition. Instead, in a proclamation he said that the colonists were engaged in an "open rebellion." Then, on October 26, he told the Parliament that the American rebellion was "manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent Empire," and that the colonists' professions of loyalty to him and the "parent State" were "meant only to amuse." News of the speech arrived at Philadelphia in January 1776, just when Thomas Paine's Common Sense appeared. American freedom would never be secure British rule, Paine argued, because the British government included two grave "constitutional errors,"monarchy and hereditary rule. Americans could secure their future and that of their children only by declaring their independence and founding a new government whose authority rested on the people alone, with no king or other hereditary rulers. The pamphlet opened a wide sprad public debate on the previously taboo subject of independence. News of Parliament's Prohibitory Act declared colonial…