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The Declaration of Independence for 5th Grade

For Miss Robbins' 5th Grade Class Forest Park Elementary 2011
by

Mrs. Palmer

on 16 May 2011

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Transcript of The Declaration of Independence for 5th Grade

The Declaration of Independence What is the first step in the writing process (after brainstorming)??? That's right - Writing a rough draft. Did you know there was also a rough draft to the Declaration of Independence? Well, there was and it was written by Thomas Jefferson. In 1776, soon after the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, the leaders of the war got together to write a letter to the King of England. They wanted to explain why they were fighting to be their own country, independent of England. This is what they had to say (but in easier words): Sometimes one group of people decide to split off from another group, and to become an independent country, as the laws of Nature and of God say that they can. But when this happens, if they want other people to respect them, they should explain why they are splitting off. We think these things are obviously true:

That all men are created equal
That all men have some rights given to them by God
That among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
So whenever any government is getting in the way of these rights, people have the right to change it or get rid of it, and to make a new government, in whatever way seems most likely to make them safe and happy. People should not change their government without a good reason, so people usually suffer as long as they can under the government they have, rather than change it. But when there have been a lot of problems for a long time, it is their right and their duty to throw off that government, and to set up a better government.We here in America have suffered for a very long time, and now we should change our government. The king of England has done many bad things to us - here is a list: He won't let us pass laws we need for everybody's good.
Even when we do pass laws, he won't sign them so they can go into effect.
He tried to force men to give up their right to make laws.
He calls men together to make laws in the most inconvenient times and places, so that they won't be able to go discuss the new laws.
He won't let new settlers come to America, and he won't let the settlers take over new land from the Native Americans. He won't let us choose our own judges, and instead he chooses them all himself, so they're all on his side.
He sends lots of new government officials that we don't want, and he makes us pay for them.
He sends lots of English soldiers here when there isn't even a war, and makes us let them live in our own houses.
He tells us these soldiers can do whatever they want and don't have to obey the law.
He won't let us buy and sell things from wherever we want. We can only buy things from England. He makes us pay all kinds of taxes without asking us about it.
He won't let us have a jury for our trials, only a judge.
He sends people accused of crimes far away to England for their trials.
He tries to get people to revolt and tries to get the "Indian Savages" to attack us.
When we ask him to stop, he just keeps on doing more bad things. We have tried to talk to the other people who live in England. We asked them to stop these crimes against us, but they have acted as though they were deaf. So we have to separate from England, and they will be our enemies during the war, though we hope they'll be our friends when there is peace. So we think that God will see that we are doing the right thing when we declare that the United States are now completely independent of the King of England. We have no more political connection to England at all. And as independent states, we say that each state has the right to make war, to make peace, to make alliances with other countries, trade with other countries, and do everything else that countries do. And we promise that we will fight for our independence with the help of God - we promise by our lives, our property, and our sacred honor. Among the men who signed this declaration of independence were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. This Declaration of Independence was an exciting letter to write - it laid out a lot of new ideas about the rights that all people should have. On the other hand, all of the people involved in writing the Declaration were rich white men. Even though they thought they themselves should have these rights, they were pretty vague about whether the same rights should apply to poor people, women, black people, or Native Americans - most of the people living in the United States at this time. Representatives of all these groups asked to be included, but in 1776, only rich white Christian men signed the Declaration of Independence. But even though the Declaration of Independence only applied to some people, it was a very important statement of the idea that everybody has rights.

Found on History for Kids Website link:
http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/northamerica/after1500/government/declaration.htm It was close to what the final draft ended up saying, but not exactly. There were 47 corrections in all and 3 whole paragraphs were added in. Tomorrow we're going to take a look at the rough draft and the final draft and see if we can find some of those differences and whether or not we can tell why they were changed. This is another version of the Declaration that is written so that kids today (and adults) can understand it better. Now we're going to watch a couple of short videos for a little bit clearer idea of what this document meant and still means. He had his pals John Adams and Ben Franklin look it over for him, just like you do.
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