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Thoughts on the Declaration of Independence Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28 1776 the Declaration of Independence is at once the nations most cherished symbol of liberty and Jeffersons most enduring monument Here in exalted and unforgettable phrases Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in self-evident truths and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country On July 21776 the Declaration of Independence was voted on and signed by the Second Continental Congress of the United States of America It was a great step forward in American history and although some rebellious activities had taken place prior no centralized strong demands had been made for change The idea that makes this so revolutionary is not that we broke the political bonds with a nation but that we broke bonds with such a powerful nation The public however is inclined to think that the idea of independence was accepted and signed with unbounded enthusiasm and that scarcely any opposition to it appeared but the contrary was the fact It will be remembered that the hope of the colonies or new States even after the war had continued for a considerable time was not so much independence as to extort justice from Great Britain The key to the documents approach lies in the paragraph that preceded and introduced the charges against the King and which were in fact themselves part of the document Maier 123 It was important for the cause that the colonists establish a view of King George III as a tyrant The document ultimately helped them to feel more
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