The Purpose of the Declaration
July 4, 1776 — Fifty six men of wealth, character and influence explained to the world in only 1,337 words the American ideals which demanded independence. The war for independence had begun in the hearts and minds of the average man, and erupted into rebellious anti-government gun fire at Lexington and Concord. It became a war at the battle of Bunker Hill several months later.
The previous fifteen years were full of ever-increasing resentment toward the government. The Sugar Act, the Currency Act, the Quartering Act and the Stamp Act in 1764-65 caused open resistance. The Sons of Liberty harassed government agents so incessantly that the Stamp Act was quickly repealed.
In 1770 anti-government rioting broke out in New York, and in Boston five colonists were shot to death in a minor confrontation with government.
In 1773 the Tea Act placed a small tax on tea. The colonists were incensed that government claimed the power to tax tea. The Boston Tea Party was a direct challenge to the King’s authority to tax any item he pleased.
King George retaliated against the rebellious colonies in 1774 with the “Intolerable Acts.” The government began to fortify Boston and seized ammunition from the militia.
In response, the colonists convened the First Continental Congress, and local militia throughout the colonies formed “the Minutemen,” those men willing and able to be ready at a minute’s notice.
Shortly before midnight on April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes rode from Boston through the countryside to warn the Minutemen that government troops were on the way to seize guns and ammunition in Concord. The colonies would not allow their God-given right to keep and bear arms be trampled, and at daybreak the “shot heard ’round the world” rang out.
The 56 men that signed the Declaration were merely explaining to the world why common people had grabbed their musket from the hallowed position over the fireplace, and began to use it to defy government. The document proclaimed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government …”
The Declaration of Independence is the official policy of the individuals that formed the federal government.