The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776


Discussion Questions

1.What assumptions about human nature and politics serve as the beginning point of the argument of the Declaration?

2. What is meant by the phrase "we hold these truths to be self-evident"? To whom are these truths self-evident, only American colonials or to the whole human race?

3. What is the meaning of "equality" in the Declaration? Does the Declaration claim that human beings are equal in every way?

4. What is the purpose of "government" according to the Declaration? Who ultimately controls the power of government?

5. What form of government is most just according to the Declaration?

6. Under what circumstances do people have the right to use violence to overthrow a government?

7. According to the Declaration, why should we be hesitant to abolish a government?

Paper Topics
1. Can one reconcile the practice of slavery with the principles of the Declaration?
2. What are the defining characteristics of a human being according to the Declaration?
3. It has been argued that the Declaration is a Lockean document. Based on your reading of Locke and the Declaration, would you agree or disagree?

Declaration Reading

Guide to unit 4

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