Why the Declaration of Independence Was Persuasive
As all good writers do, Jefferson then lays out facts: that King George has refused, forbidden, called, endeavoured, made, obstructed, erected, kept, affected, combined; that he has exceeded his authority by quartering, cutting, imposing, depriving, transporting, taking, abolishing, altering, suspending.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people . . . . In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Then he brings it home and stamps it with resolve:
We, therefore, . . . in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States . . . And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Franklin and Adams agreed it was better than their draft. They took the Declaration to Congress on July 2, and there debate raged until the afternoon of July 4. The cuts were mostly for content, like Jefferson’s section attacking the slave trade.
It is a fine choice of words up to the task of birthing the strongest nation on earth. Click here to read them, not because they are the cornerstone of our democracy, but because they are an example of the power of words, only 1323 of them--the length of the average writing assignment for a high school sophomore.
PostScript: The two men most responsible for our Declaration of Independence, later our second and third Presidents, Adams and Jefferson, with disparate personalities and politics (Jefferson defeated Adams in Adams’s bid for a second term), died within hours of each other, exactly fifty years later, on the Fourth of July.
Happy Fourth. And be safe.