The document that formed the United States of America
See also:
  • Freedom Founts
  • Thomas JeffersonAuthor, signer and representative from Virginia
    United States


    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, 4 Jul 1776
    U.S. National Archives, includes transcript, downloadable high-resolution images and facts about the signers
    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
    Hyperlinked text with references to other areas of the Freedom Circle directory

    Events of Interest

    4 Jul 1776, Second Continental Congress, adopted, in Philadelphia


    A House Undivided Cannot Stand, by Thomas DiLorenzo, 3 Jun 2006
    "The Declaration of Independence declares that the free and independent states were even to have the ability, as individual states, to wage war, which they did during the Revolution. James Madison is given most of the credit for the idea of divided sovereignty, which is sometimes referred to as federalism or states' rights."
    Independence Day Address in Kansas City, MO, by Andre Marrou, 4 Jul 1992
    "The ideals of the Declaration ... were to be betrayed repeatedly. ... Throughout history great civilizations have declined and ultimately died because of three factors: excessive taxation, debasement of the currency and the stationing of troops in many foreign countries. The United States of America has done, or is doing, all three."
    Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) | Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, by Daniel J. Mahoney, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "In 1775–1776, Jefferson was a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, where in June 1776 he drafted the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Congress on July 4. As he later described his purpose, he sought 'to place before mankind the common sense of the subject'—justification of American independence—'in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.' In doing so, he also defined the American philosophy of government, which was premised on the fact that each person, by virtue of his or her humanity alone, possessed inherent natural rights, among them the rights of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'"
    Karl Hess: Presidential Speechwriter Turned Homesteader, by Karl Hess, Anson Mount, Mother Earth News, Jan 1976
    "The Plowboy Interview", shortly after Hess' book Dear America had become a bestseller, questions him about the switch from right wing conservatism to the New Left
    "As far as I'm concerned, the federal government is overthrown because the Declaration of Independence clearly states that when a government gets to be intolerable, concerned citizens should abolish it. So I wrote a letter to the government saying that it was abolished. Interestingly enough, however, the Declaration of Independence has no current legal standing. The Constitution superseded it unfortunately."
    Libertarians of Will, Intellect, and Action, by Murray Rothbard, 1977
    Keynote address to the Libertarian Party Convention
    "For as noble, as exciting, as profoundly libertarian as the Declaration was, it was still the necessary but not sufficient first step in the victory of what we have correctly identified as the First Libertarian Revolution. The Declaration was the rhetoric, the ideology, that set the stage ... It is only because of their dedicated actions that we, their descendants, can celebrate the 4th of July and the Declaration of Independence."
    Module 3: Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence
    Third module of the Cato Home Study Course, includes link to listen or download audio program (two parts, 1:18:20 and 1:13:52), questions and suggested readings
    "The Declaration of Independence is more than a mere declaration of intention to sever political ties with Britain. It is a carefully crafted argument justifying that intention. It ranks as one of the greatest and most influential political documents of all time. ... The Founders offered a careful set of arguments for armed revolution, a course that was not undertaken lightly, with full awareness of the consequences. When he signed a document that concluded, 'We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,' each signatory knew that he was signing his own death warrant in the event of failure."
    NewNatural Law and the American Tradition, by Davis E. Keeler, The Freeman, May 1981
    Discusses the influence of Edward Coke and William Blackstone in early colonial America
    "The Declaration of Independence was a statement of these principles. Far from being an extravagant rallying cry for a difficult cause, it was a simple statement of the general political and legal consensus of the colonists. When the infuriated colonists denounced the Stamp Tax and demanded the rights of Englishmen, they were not demanding those rights which Parliament had from time to time granted its subjects but rather those immemorial rights of Englishmen granted by God and manifest in nature which no parliament however representative may take away or alter."
    The Declaration of Independence: A History, National Archives
    The Declaration of Independence in American, by H. L. Mencken, 7 Nov 1921
    Originally "Essay in American"; reprinted in The American Language, third edition, 1923; includes a preface explaining why the original Declaration is "quite unintelligible" to the average current-day (1920's) American
    "All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain't got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don't interfere with nobody else. That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter."
    The Roots of Modern Libertarian Ideas, by Brian Doherty, Cato Policy Report, Mar 2007
    Survey of the history of libertarian ideas, from ancient China and Greece to 20th century writers
    "The libertarian vision is in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal; no one ought to have any special rights and privileges in his social relations with other people. We have certain rights—to our life, to our freedom, to do what we please in order to find happiness. Government has just one purpose: to help us protect those rights. And if it doesn't, then we get to 'alter or abolish it.' It's hard to imagine a more libertarian document, but there it is: a sacred founding document of the United States of America."
    Thomas Jefferson's Sophisticated, Radical Vision of Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jul 1995
    Biographical essay, highlighting Jefferson's "felicity of expression" that led him to write the famous words in the Declaration of Independence
    "On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee urged the Continental Congress to adopt his resolution for independence. Debate was scheduled for July 1, while Jefferson, Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were assigned to prepare a statement announcing and justifying independence. Thirty-three-year-old Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on the second floor of a Philadelphia home belonging to bricklayer Jacob Graff, where he rented several rooms. ... By habit, he did most of his writing between about 6:00 PM and midnight. The Declaration took him 17 days."
    To Defeat the Assault on Liberty, Our Appeals Must Be Moral, by Jim Powell, 13 May 2013
    Argues, by providing several historical examples, that "compelling moral appeals for liberty" are needed to confront various current problems such as government spending and debt, higher taxes and disregard of constitutional limits on executive power
    "The Declaration resonated with people around the world. The first of dozens of German translations appeared on July 9, 1776. French translations of the Declaration of Independence circulated throughout Europe, from Paris to Berlin and St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, it was translated into Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Spanish and other languages. Well into the 20th century, new nations issued declarations that adopted phrases from the American Declaration of Independence."
    Would-Be Rulers without Clothes, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, May 2008
    Examines Hillary Clinton's assertion about "wanting" a universal health care plan
    "It's what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote, 'All men are created equal' in the Declaration of Independence. He certainly did not mean that people are equal in intelligence, talent, energy, ambition, physical strength, and so on. And he couldn't have meant that they should merely be equal before the law, because that would be a low bar indeed; we can imagine a society in which the law treats everyone rather poorly but nonetheless equally. ..."

    Cartoons and Comic Strips

    UpdWriting Today's Declaration of Dependence, by Chuck Asay, 29 Oct 2004


    Individual Rights Reconsidered: Are the Truths of the U.S. Declaration of Independence Lasting?
        by Tibor R. Machan (Editor), 2001