– Thomas Paine
What ideas were expressed in the Declaration of Independence?
The Declaration of Independence can be broadly classified into four sections. The first section, or the introduction, states the purpose of the document. The second part explains the theory of a good government and the individual rights each person is entitled, and that the government must respect those rights. The third section is a list of grievances against King George III, and the final part of the document asserts sovereignty of United States of America.
The opening sentence of the Declaration explains the reasons for declaring independence from the government of Great Britain. The Declaration asserts as a matter of Natural Law, the people's ability to declare political independence.
The second part, or the preamble, includes the ideas and ideals of the Declaration. According to the Declaration, all individuals have “certain unalienable rights,” which are inherent to everyone, therefore, the government should protect these rights. Moreover, it is the duty and the right of the people to elect the government.
The third section lists numerous charges against King George III. These grievances are examples of actions that violated the rights of the Americans and therefore declared him unfit to rule. The final section of the Declaration affirms the determination of Americans to defend and maintain their independence and rights.
What was the Declaration’s idea of a government?
The Declaration reaffirmed the idea of government by the consent of the governed. The people have “certain unalienable rights,” of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and they must establish a government to protect these rights. If the government violates these rights, then the people have the power to change their government. In other words, the government derives its power from the people.