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The Declaration of Independence


America’s Declaration of Independence lays the foundation for the growth of democracy in the United States. The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God and the concepts of equality and unalienable rights for all form the fundamental principles of governance. This makes Declaration America’s most important historical document.

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The Declaration of Independence is America’s most important historical document. The first opening paragraphs of the Declaration assert the fundamental principles of government, based on the theory of natural rights which had been set out and held by, among others, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Emerich de Vattel. It establishes that a government exists to protect the citizens and also to protect their property as well. It asserts that the prime purpose of the government is not only to ensure social welfare but also to protect the rights of the individual.


On human equality, the Declaration of Independence explains that “all men are created equal”. Equality is one of the first principles articulated in this very important document. And the Declaration is a legal document that speaks of equality not just from a religious perspective but in the legal sense. It implies that all human beings have the right to enjoy equal opportunity, protection and legal rights. The law guarantees equal opportunity for every individual to participate in achieving social, political or economic positions. Therefore, the differences in the outcome as a result of individual effort do not contravene the principle of equality. Thus, the principle of equality does not necessarily require the civil government to ensure equal social position, economic status and political power.

The Declaration provides that all people are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” that include the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In The Declaration of Independence and what it means Today, Edward Dumbauld argues that “the concepts of equal and inalienable rights for all, limited government, popular legal consent, and freedom to rebel have had a lasting effect on U.S. law and politics”.1

The legal document outlines the inherent right of people to choose the form of government that will serve them. The Declaration also recognizes that people have an undeniable right to alter or abolish that government under the law. America’s most important historical document also categorically states that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends (equality and unalienable rights) it is the right of people to alter or abolish it”. Thus, from the laws of nature and nature’s God, the Declaration of Independence establishes a legal consensus on several principles.

The purpose of the government, as was the intent of the Founding Fathers, is outlined in the opening preamble of the United States’ constitution. The opening paragraphs of the preamble read, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America”. Therefore, there are six core purposes of the government as outlined in the constitution. The first one is to form a perfect union among the various fifty-six states which form the United States of America. The second purpose of the government is to establish justice by upholding the Rule of Law and by establishing competent judicial processes. The third one is to provide for Common Defense through elite military action when deemed necessary, to protect America from enemies. The other purpose is to secure blessings of liberty and also to promote welfare and to ensure tranquility (to maintain Peace).

The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God form the foundation of political principles of American independence. The law as provided in the declaration states, “when in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”. The Law is a form of moral code that binds American people as one. In The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, David Armitage explains that “the Law of Nature and Nature’s God incorporates a legal standard of freedom into all present and future US governments”.2

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The concept implies that nature has a set of rules by which every single person has a conscience, accountability and a duty not to do harm to others or to damage other people’s property. It recognizes the inherent ability of human beings to choose good over evil, virtue over vice and people’s ability to use reason and civility to fight all forms of corruption.


The declaration has a list of thirty grievances against the acts of the rule of George III of the British Monarch. The grievances help us to understand how the Americans wanted to exercise their freedom, how they felt they should be governed (or what form they wanted their government to take), and what mutual responsibilities they wanted between the government and the citizens. In Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Rewrote America, Garry Wills points out that “the grievances contain notions that are characteristic of American democracy”.3 Therefore the list of grievances help us identify the need to uphold the law of nature and nature’s God, particularly the principles of equality, unalienable rights and also the need for independence from the colonial rule.


Armitage, David. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Dumbauld, Edward. The Declaration of Independence And What It Means Today. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1950.

Wills, Garry. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Rewrote America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

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