What Was the Declaration of Independence and What Does It Represent to American History?

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most significant documents in American history. Written by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, it declared the thirteen American colonies as independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire. It is considered to be one of the most important events in American history and symbolizes America’s fight for freedom and democracy.

What was the Declaration of Independence?

The Declaration of Independence was a formal statement declaring the separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain. It was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, with input from other members of the Continental Congress such as Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. The document outlined various reasons why America should be free from British rule and asserted that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Purpose

The purpose of this document was to justify why America should become an independent nation and to declare its independence from Great Britain. It served as a formal announcement to the world that America was no longer under British rule but was now a free and independent nation. The Declaration also set forth certain principles that would become fundamental to American democracy, including individual rights, representative government, and popular sovereignty.

The Significance

The significance of the Declaration cannot be overstated. It paved the way for America’s eventual victory in its war for independence against Great Britain and helped to establish America’s identity as a nation founded on principles such as freedom, democracy, and human rights. The Declaration also influenced other revolutions around the world and remains an inspiration to people struggling for freedom today.

Elements of the Declaration

The Declaration is made up of three distinct parts: The Preamble, The List of Grievances Against King George III, and The Resolution.

The Preamble

The Preamble is the opening statement of the Declaration and outlines its purpose and justification. It states that when a government becomes destructive to the people’s rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a new government that will better serve their interests.

The List of Grievances Against King George III

The List of Grievances Against King George III lists the various ways in which King George III had violated American colonists’ rights. The document accuses him of engaging in acts of tyranny, such as imposing unfair taxes, cutting off trade, and denying colonists a voice in their own government.

The Resolution

The Resolution is the final part of the Declaration and declares that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States. It also asserts that 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.


The Declaration of Independence remains an important symbol of America’s fight for freedom and democracy. Its principles have been enshrined in American law and continue to inspire people around the world who are struggling for their own freedom. By declaring America’s independence from Great Britain, this document paved the way for America’s identity as a nation founded on principles such as individual rights, representative government, and popular sovereignty.