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Essay 1 – Introduction

Essay 2 – History of the Magna Carta and Its Influence on the Declaration of Independence

Essay 3 – The Declaration of Independence in History

Essay 4 – Opposition: The Second Continental Congress, Threat of War, and America’s Decision to Move Ahead with Declaring Independence

Essay 5 – Influence of the Declaration of Independence on the United States Constitution

Preamble and Founding Principles of the Declaration of Independence

Essay 6 – Necessity of Dissolving Political Bands
“IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth,”

Essay 7 – Laws Of Nature and of Nature’s God
“the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Essay 8 – All Men Are Created Equal
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,”

Essay 9 – Endowed by Their Creator, Unalienable Rights and the Importance of “Among” Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
“that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—”

Essay 10 – Government Derives Powers From the Consent of the Governed
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –“

Essay 11 – Right of the People To Alter or Abolish Government
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,”

Essay 12 – Foundation of Government on Principles
“and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Essay 13 – Governments Long Established Should Not Be Changed for Light and Transient Causes
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Essay 14 – Confronting A Long Train of Abuses and Usurpations
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Grievances: The Abuses of King George III

Essay 15 – “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

Essay 16 – “He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.”

Essay 17 – “He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

Essay 18 – “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

Essay 19 – “He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.”

Essay 20 – “He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.”

Essay 21 – “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”

Essay 22 – “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.”

Essay 23 – “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.”

Essay 24 – “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Essay 25 – “He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.”

Essay 26 – “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.”

Essay 27 – “He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.”

Essay 28 – “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

Efforts to Obtain Justice from Great Britain

Essay 29 – “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”

Birth of the American Nation

Essay 30 – “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Drafting Committee of the Declaration of Independence

Essay 31 – In June of 1776, upon finding petitions ignored and rights of the colonies would not be respected, a committee was formed by Congress to draft a Declaration of Independence after Delegate Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution declaring, for the colonies, an end to all allegiance to the British crown. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were appointed to draft the document; Lee and each committeeman signed it except Livingston. While endeavoring to pen the document for independence for America, they would evidence the meaning of risking their lives, fortunes and sacred honor under protection of divine providence to complete the task.

56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Note: August 2, 1776 is the actual signing day of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, signed on July 4, 1776 in large letters just beneath the text. The Declaration was then sent to each of the thirteen colonies to read on July 5. The regular delegates added their names on August 2 when the document was ready. Beginning with New Hampshire, the signers wrote their names beneath John Hancock’s starting on the right side of the document working geographically from the northern states to the southern states. The committee to draft the Declaration consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston of New York. Livingston played an integral role in crafting the document though he was not among the fifty-six signers. There are two differences in the signing order: John Hancock, who signed first at the top, is listed with the Massachusetts signers. Matthew Thornton of New Hampshire, who signed later, is listed with his New Hampshire counterparts. Six signers of the Declaration of Independence also signed the United States Constitution eleven years later: George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, George Read, Roger Sherman, and James Wilson.

New Hampshire:

Essay 32 – Josiah Bartlett – New Hampshire

  • Josiah Bartlett, Signer of the Declaration of Independence by Tara Ross, Nationally Recognized Expert on the Electoral College, Author of Why We Need the Electoral College; The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule; Prager University video, Do You Understand the Electoral College?

Essay 33 – William Whipple – New Hampshire

Essay 34 – Matthew Thornton – New Hampshire

Massachusetts:

Essay 35 – John Hancock – Massachusetts

Essay 36 – Samuel Adams – Massachusetts

Essay 37 – John Adams – Massachusetts

Essay 38 – Robert Treat Paine – Massachusetts

Essay 39 – Elbridge Gerry – Massachusetts

Rhode Island:

Essay 40 – Stephen Hopkins – Rhode Island

Essay 41 – William Ellery – Rhode Island

Connecticut:

Essay 42 – Roger Sherman – Connecticut

Essay 43 – Samuel Huntington – Connecticut

Essay 44 – William Williams – Connecticut

Essay 45 – Oliver Wolcott – Connecticut

New York:

Essay 46 – William Floyd – New York

Essay 47 – Philip Livingston – New York

Essay 48 – Francis Lewis – New York

Essay 49 – Lewis Morris – New York

New Jersey:

Essay 50 – Richard Stockton – New Jersey

Essay 51 – John Witherspoon – New Jersey

Essay 52 – Francis Hopkinson – New Jersey

Essay 53 – John Hart – New Jersey

Essay 54 – Abraham Clark – New Jersey

Pennsylvania:

Essay 55 – Robert Morris – Pennsylvania

Essay 56 – Benjamin Rush – Pennsylvania

Essay 57 – Benjamin Franklin – Pennsylvania

Essay 58 – John Morton – Pennsylvania

Essay 59 – George Clymer – Pennsylvania

Essay 60 – James Smith – Pennsylvania

Essay 61 – George Taylor – Pennsylvania

Essay 62 – James Wilson – Pennsylvania

George Ross – Pennsylvania

Guest Essayist: Gary Porter, Executive Director, Constitution Leadership Initiative.

Delaware:

Caesar Rodney – Delaware

Guest Essayist: Robert M. S. McDonald is Professor of History at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and author of Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson’s Image in His Own Time.

George Read – Delaware

Guest Essayist: Gordon Lloyd, Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Senior Fellow, Ashbrook Center; Author

Thomas McKean – Delaware

Guest Essayist: Gordon Lloyd, Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Senior Fellow, Ashbrook Center; Author

Maryland:

Samuel Chase – Maryland

Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School; Constituting America Fellow

William Paca – Maryland

Guest Essayist: Val Crofts, Chief Education and Programs Officer, American Village; Former High School History, U.S. Military History, and AP U.S. Government Teacher; Member, United States Semiquincentennial Commission (America 250).

Thomas Stone – Maryland

Guest Essayist: Ron Meier, West Point Graduate and Vietnam War Veteran; Constituting America Senior Essay Contest Winner; Author, Common Sense Rekindled: A Rejuvenation of the American Experiment

Charles Carroll of Carrollton – Maryland

Guest Essayist: Colleen A. Sheehan, Director, Graduate Studies, School of Civic & Economic Thought & Leadership, Arizona State University

Virginia:

George Wythe – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Suzanne Munson, Author, Jefferson’s Godfather: The Man Behind the Man, a biography of Founding Father, George Wythe; Frequent Lecturer on the Wythe-Jefferson legacy.

Richard Henry Lee – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School; Constituting America Fellow

Thomas Jefferson – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Author of six books including Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America; Senior Teaching Fellow, Bill of Rights Institute; Constituting America Fellow

Benjamin Harrison – Virginia

Guest Essayist: William M.S. Rasmussen, Senior Curator & Lora M. Robins Curator of Art, Virginia Museum of History & Culture

Thomas Nelson, Jr. – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Val Crofts, Chief Education and Programs Officer, American Village; Former High School History, U.S. Military History, and AP U.S. Government Teacher; Member, United States Semiquincentennial Commission (America 250).

Francis Lightfoot Lee – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty; Host, The Andrew Langer Show on WBAL NewsRadio 1090 in Baltimore.

Carter Braxton – Virginia

Guest Essayist: Reserved

North Carolina:

William Hooper – North Carolina

Guest Essayist: Jeff Broadwater, Professor Emeritus of History, Barton College

Joseph Hewes – North Carolina

Guest Essayist: Jeff Broadwater, Professor Emeritus of History, Barton College

John Penn – North Carolina

Guest Essayist: Barb Zakszewski, Wife, Mother and Grandmother, Lifelong Conservative, Regular Civic Volunteer, Writer

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge – South Carolina

Guest Essayist: Dr. Edward Lee, Professor of History, Winthrop University; Former Mayor, City of York, South Carolina

Thomas Heyward, Jr. – South Carolina

Guest Essayist: Dr. Edward Lee, Professor of History, Winthrop University; Former Mayor, City of York, South Carolina

Thomas Lynch, Jr. – South Carolina

Guest Essayist: Dr. Edward Lee, Professor of History, Winthrop University; Former Mayor, City of York, South Carolina

Arthur Middleton – South Carolina

Guest Essayist: Dr. Edward Lee, Professor of History, Winthrop University; Former Mayor, City of York, South Carolina

Georgia:

Button Gwinnett – Georgia

Guest Essayist : James C. Clinger, Professor of Political Science; Director, Master of Public Administration Program, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Murray State University

Lyman Hall – Georgia

Guest Essayist : James C. Clinger, Professor of Political Science; Director, Master of Public Administration Program, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Murray State University

George Walton – Georgia

Guest Essayist : James C. Clinger, Professor of Political Science; Director, Master of Public Administration Program, Department of Political Science and Sociology, Murray State University

Conclusion

Guest Essayist: William B. Allen, Emeritus Dean and Professor, Michigan State University

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