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The Declaration of Independence
Transcript of The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence
Why do people create, structure, and change governments?
Two factors contribute to the growth of the colonies in the 1750's.
1. Increase in number of immigrants.
2. The French and Indian War.
The Declaration of Independence
The document Jefferson submits is heavily influenced by the philosophies of Enlightenment and one of its more prominent thinkers John Locke.
Jefferson also draws inspiration from Thomas Paine's Common Sense.
By 1774 the colonists had enough. They sent representatives Philadelphia to show their support for Massachusetts and discuss their response to the British "Intolerable Acts." This body, is known as The First Continental Congress.
They discussed their relationship with Britain, and how to assert their rights with the British government. The Stamp Act Congress had issued the Declaration of Rights and Grievances but Parliament still held to the belief that the theory of Virtual Representation gave them the authority to tax the colonies. (Parliament ruled on behalf of all citizens)
They wanted to appear as united colonies in their reply to Britain.
The purpose of the First Continental Congress was not to seek independence from Britain as much as it was to obtain the rights guaranteed them as British citizens under the English Bill of Rights.
It is important to understand that Jefferson was not only writing for the benefit of declaring the colonies independence from the King.
He also wanted the rest of the world to know that the colonies had legitimate reasons for doing what they were doing and that they wanted the support of the rest of the world in their cause.
He was writing to the King and Parliament, but was also speaking to the colonists and the rest of the world.
What events and movements affected colonist's attitudes?
What events increased colonist's anger toward British rule
What was the Declaration of Independence?
Why does it matter?
The principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence are still ones we are working on today.
The events that led colonists to declare independence affected the choices they made about a new government.
Social and Political Changes in the Colonies
Great Awakening -
question traditional religious authority of the church.
made people think about political authority and the role of government.
Colonists begin to reevaluate their situation. They want the same rights as other citizens of Great Britain.
The colonists feel that parliament should protect their natural rights from unjust legislation enacted by the King
Instead parliament joins with the King in creating laws that are oppressive to the colonists.
The colonists feel they should be able to choose their own leaders.
The royal governor is a puppet of the King, doing what he wanted which was not in the interest of the colonists.
An increase in the colonial population meant more demand for land and resources.
Victory in the French and Indian war opened up more land west of the Appalachians.
The colonists would finally be able to expand
The French and Indian war was part of a world war left the British heavily in debt. The British felt the colonists did not properly support them in the war with supplies, manpower or money. They wanted the colonists to pay their fair share.
In response to Pontiac's Rebellion after the French and Indian War, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763 which said colonists could not settle in Native lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. This angered colonists, not only were they being asked to pay for the expenses incurred during the War, now they were being told they could not settle on the lands they fought to liberate from French and native control.
The King issued a series of taxes to try and force the colonists to pay for the war fought in their defense.
The congress had three objectives: to compose a statement of colonial rights, to identify British parliaments violation of those rights, and to provide a plan that would convince Britain to restore those rights.
The members agreed to boycott British goods and passed resolutions asserting colonial rights. They also agreed to meet again in May 1775, if the British did not change their policies.
In retaliation, the King and Lord North of England decided to punish and weaken the colonies. They blocked colony access to the North Atlantic fishing area.
On May 10, 1775, the members of the Second Continental Congress met at the State House in Philadelphia. There were several new delegates including: John Hancock from Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, and Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania.
The Second Continental Congress established the militia as the Continental Army to represent the thirteen states.
They also elected George Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published a booklet called Common Sense.
In the booklet, he described his vision of a government in which the people, through their elected representatives, would have supreme power.
He was the first to openly suggest armed fighting for independence from Britain. The booklet was broadly circulated, and even George Washington read it. Thomas Paine's booklet would have a major influence on Thomas Jefferson in his writing of the Declaration of Independence.
The Continental Congress held the Virginia Convention in May, 1776.
Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution for the colonies to become free and independent states.
The Congress appointed a committee to draft the formal declaration of independence.
The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This committee then chose Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft.
In two weeks time the Declaration of Independence was written.
It is one of the three documents known as the Charters of Freedom.
Typically the Declaration of Independence is broken down into 5 segments.
It it is a “Natural Law” that people have the ability to assume political independence; states that the grounds for independence must be reasonable, and ought to be explained.
Statement of Natural Rights:
Outlines a general philosophy of government that justifies revolution when government harms natural rights.
Charges Against King and Parliament:
A bill of particulars documenting the king's "repeated injuries and usurpations" of the Americans’ rights & liberties.
Statement of Separation:
The signers assert that there exist conditions under which people must change their government, that the British have produced such conditions, and by necessity the colonies must throw off political ties with the British Crown and become independent states. The core of the conclusion contains the Lee resolution that had been passed on July 2.
Historic Documents Initiating Change
1215- Magna Carta - Limited Power of Monarch
1689- British Bill of Rights - Guaranteed Rights of Individuals
1620 - Mayflower Compact - Give up individual rights to the body politic
1649 - Maryland Act of Toleration - Law mandating religious toleration
1774 - Declaration of Rights and Grievances - declared that taxes imposed on British colonists without their formal consent were unconstitutional
1775 - Olive Branch Petition - an attempt to avoid a full-blown war between the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain.
Locke believed that people formed governments to protect their natural rights.
are rights that everyone was born with such as the right to life, freedom, and the right to own property.
He argued that a
existed between people and the government. This contract held that people gave up power to be ruled by a government and in return that government would look after their natural rights.
If the government did not look after these rights then the people had a responsibility to overthrow that government and put a new one into place.
1. The first printed copies of the Declaration of Independence were made by John Dunlap and
have come to be known as Dunlap Broadsides
2. It is thought that between 100 and 200 copies were made. The Continental Congress
ordered a copy to be made on parchment and signed by the delegates which they did on August 2nd.
3. Washington was given one of the original broadsides and it is believed he personally read it
to his troops, then kept the copy on him throughout the war.
4. Of the 25 original broadsides remaining 21 belong to colleges, libraries, historical
societies, and city halls. The final 4 are privately owned.
5. In 1989 a man in Philadelphia paid $4 for a painting at a flea market and when he
removed the painting from the frame he found a broadside. In 2000 Norman Lear bought the broadside for $8 million and set up a traveling exhibit to share it with people across America.