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During the American War of Independence the British Colonists announced their separation from the British Empire in 1776 by creating the Declaration of Independence. Each of the 13 colonies signed the Declaration which formally declared a separation from the King of Great Britain. This important document was created by Thomas Jefferson for 3 reasons.
The Declaration of Independence was created for 3 reasons. First, the Declaration of Independence stated why the British Colonies were forming the United States of America. Second, the Declaration of Independence was a response to a previous letter sent by King George. Third, the Declaration of Independence established the central cultural ethos and government of the United States.
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Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons the Declaration of Independence was created.
The Declaration of Independence Stated Why The British Colonies Were Forming The United States
One of the most important reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was to declare the reason for the separation of the British Colonies from the British Empire.
The Declaration of Independence was created in 1776. For nearly two hundred years before the creation of the United States the British colonies had been slowly drifting away from the British Empire.
Initially the British Empire invested heavily into the British Colonies. However, after Spain’s influence in the new world declined the British started to divert attention away from the colonies in favor of colonial possessions held in the Caribbean Sea.
In 1655 the British Empire captured Jamaica and began to invest heavily into plantation farming across the British West Indies. This proved massively successful and resulted in business resources being diverted away from the British Colonies.
As a result the British Colonists in North America began to form their own culture and businesses completely separated from British influence. Over a period of 100 years this would slowly create a whole separate nation which had its own values, economy, and goals.
When the British Crown realized how much money they could generate by taxing the colonists in the mid 18th century that created conflict. The British Colonists had to create their own economy and protect themselves, why should they pay the British?
Further, the British Crown would not give the colonists representation with the British Parliament system of government. From this we get the famous quote of “taxation without representation.”
As such, one of the main reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was to formally announce that the British Colonies were capable of self governing themselves. This was because for nearly 100 years they have had to do so.
The Declaration Of Independence Was A Response To A Letter From King George III
One of the main reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was that it was in response to a letter sent by King George III.
After the French and Indian War concluded in 1763 the British Empire was heavily in debt. Having won the war but incurred substantial debt the British Empire put taxes upon the British Colonists.
This greatly angered the British Colonists. They had not agreed to fight a war with France and their native allies in North America. Not only had this caused significant damage to the British Colonies but now they were being forced to pay for the damages.
The British Colonists did not pay their taxes. As a result King George III sent an army to force the colonists to pay their taxes. This only increased conflicts as the colonies now came under martial law.
In 1774 the conflict had reached a boiling point. In an effort to avert all out war the colonists sent a letter to King George III requesting that he remove his army and let the colonies handle the situation. (A copy of the letter can be read here)
The British Parliament never read the letter nor did King George III write a formal response to this letter.
As a response to this the colonists drafted another letter and had William Penn hand deliver it to England. This was called the Olive Branch Petition and it stated that the British Colonists would either declare independence or King George III would remove the excess taxes.
King George III never read the letter and immediately declared the colonies in open rebellion. On August 23rd 1775 King George III issued a proclamation declaring the colonies in open rebellion which formally started the American War of Independence.
After this the colonists had no choice but to write the Declaration of Independence. All 13 British colonies would declare independence from the British Crown and stand united.
As such, one of the reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was because of a response to a letter from King George.
The Declaration Of Independence Established The Government and Cultural Ethos Of The United States
One of the main reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was the creation of the central cultural ethos and government of the United States.
A cultural ethos is simply defined as a collective spirit or character of a specific culture. Starting in the 17th century the British Colonists began to believe that they were different from the British back in Europe.
However, there was no formal document in place that outlined this change in culture. Each individual state in the United States behaved extremely differently from the others.
In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence we can see a philosophical debate on the nature of government and how the people of the United States were different culturally from Britain.
“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776
The reason that Thomas Jefferson wrote this paragraph was to demonstrate a completely different philosophy of government. In the 18th century the British Empire was ruled by a monarch who held considerable power over the whole government.
The British Empire had a parliament but during the 18th century it was limited in power. The House of Commons was progressing towards independence but was still largely ineffective when compared to the dominant power of the House of Lords and Monarch.
With the creation of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was stating that this new government called the United States of America would be founded on the principle that all men are created equal. Further, that these men would sacrifice natural rights to make a government that works in the best interest of all people.
This is the cultural ethos of the United States. It established that the United States was culturally different from the British Empire. That this difference would manifest itself as equal governance.
Up to this modern day politicians, leaders, businessmen, and the average American quote the Declaration of Independence as a means to establish authority over a subject. Abraham Lincoln for example did this during his Gettysburg Address.
As such, one of the main reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence was the formal establishment of a new government and cultural ethos.
There you have it; an entire article that goes over the 3 reasons for the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
Important documents and their creation remains a fascinating subject of study. Most people just see the document but fail to realize its importance within society. Potential students of history will find a wealth of information regarding the reasons for the creation of important documents.
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