7 Eylül 2010 Salı

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson on 28th of June 1776. This draft is very important and a milestone in today’s U.S.A’s political and social life. By declaring this paper, the founders of the U.S.A who were mostly former British citizens, not only declared their independence against Great Britain, a country that had colonized the most of the world from American continent to the Eastern Asia starting from the late 18th century onwards, but they also paved way to other independence movements and revolutions in some colonies and in some strictly centralized states of that time such as France. In the light of this information, this paper is an attempt to elaborate the Declaration of Independence of the U.S.A and try to explain the reasons of both the American Revolution and the philosophy behind the establishment of an independent American state. In order to do this, firstly I will give brief information about the Industrial revolution. Secondly, I will focus on some important phases and sayings in the declaration.

As it is stated above, Great Britain is the state where the industrial revolution first started in the world. Industrial Revolution was a real breakthrough not only in the world’s economic system but also in the political system. Industrial Revolution started by a change in the mentality of the big landowners i.e. aristocratic class in the Great Britain. Along with the small merchants, they sold their lands and made investments in the country by opening up factories. They started to manufacture the goods in their factories and sell them to the different places of the world. However, the lack of raw material posed an important problem to the factory owners. In order to eliminate this problem, Britain started to colonize different places in the world which were rich in raw materials and had cheap labor force. Colonization process had three aspects. Firstly, it provided cheap raw materials and labor force to factory owners in Britain. Secondly, it provided British merchants new markets for selling their goods. Thirdly, as a result of the colonization Great Britain became an empire which ruled almost two thirds of the world. In the heyday of the colonization process Britain even called “the empire in which the sun does not sank.” Northern America was also an important colony of the Great Britain. Many British merchants migrated to America in order to make investments and use the raw materials and cheap labor force. Actually, it was the British immigrants that initiated the American Revolution.

When we look at the reasons of the American Revolution which led to American Revolution and its official declaration it is better to focus on our primary source. In the sayings of the declaration we see a reaction to the British rule. As a result of injustices and discrimination that British-Americans faced under the British rule, founders of U.S emphasized especially the importance of individual liberty and equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”[1] Actually the political philosophy of the declaration which is liberalism was not a new phenomenon at that time. John Locke and other contemporary thinkers had already mentioned the concepts like individual liberty, right to live etc. In a sense, the ideas which emerged from Britain led to the independence movements in her empire. In addition, in the declaration the main reasons of the resentment against the Britain are also mentioned one by one. Basically, British-Americans condemn the monarch not to reach any consensus in some core issues. The irreconcilable attitude of the monarch led to dissident movements in the continent. In order for better understanding the reasons and level of resentment it is better to quote some saying from the declaration. “He has refused to assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.”[2] There is no doubt that through analyzing those parts we can reach the conclusion that the monarch had the sole power in his hand and use it mostly to suppress the people. It is very much opposite of today’s U.S political system. Monarch used every opportunity and his power to make people subject to him. Eventually, this situation led to the total partition of American territory from Great Britain. Representatives of 13 states of the Northern America which were Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut signed this declaration and U.S officially declared its independence after a long struggle with Britain.

When we take a glance to the political system that was established after the independence we se that a consensus had been reached among the founders of the U.S. As a reaction to the centralized British rule they first established a confederation among the 13 states. The Articles of Confederation was accepted with some reservations of the northern states. Articles of Confederation were accepted in order to prevent the establishment of any further monarchy in the U.S territory. According to the Articles of Confederation every state is independent in formulating their foreign and domestic policies as well as trade relationships with each other. As the time passed, this had created problems in the U.S. The lack of coordination among the states makes it explicit the need for a new constitution and political system. In fact, this problem was solved by establishing a federal system instead of confederation. More powerful centralized government and established collective foreign and trade policies make U.S to survive till this day. Although, some concessions were given to the supporters of the confederation through incorporating Bill of Rights as the first amendment to the constitution. The basic aim of Bill of Rights is to protect individual rights and liberties against the state. In addition, presidential system of government and checks and balances system was established in order to prevent a possible one man rule.

As noted above, liberalism is the basic philosophy behind the Declaration of Independence. In the following years onwards, liberalism has become both the political and economic system of the U.S.A. It is the basic pillar of the U.S political system. American political system gives very much importance to the individual rights and liberties. All those liberties are guaranteed by the U.S constitution.

To sum up, Declaration of Independence is the starting point of the establishment of U.S.A. It also became a model to other revolutions and independence movements throughout the world. U.S federal state also developed the philosophy of liberalism and successfully incorporated it into its system both in economic and political system.


· http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html

· http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/declaration_transcript.html

[1] http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html

[2] http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/declaration_transcript.html

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