Thomas Jefferson's Response To The Declaration Of Independence

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In 1776, a small group of leading American intellectuals and politicians declared to the world that the Thirteen Colonies, having endured over a year of war with Britain, would form their own independent state. The Declaration of Independence, in establishing freedom from British rule, immortalized the values of equality, liberty, and the rights of man in American politics and culture. However, perhaps unintentionally, the 1776 Declaration also immortalized the man proclaimed to be its chief contributor: Thomas Jefferson. In the decades and centuries since the American Revolution, Jefferson’s image and legacy have become inextricably tied to his statement that “All men are created equal”, despite his use of slavery and overt racism. Through Jefferson’s efforts to write his own history, and aided by both political needs and patriotism in the historians who…show more content…
The American ideal of equality, espoused by the second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence, was at the time of its writing neither an original or obscure statement. Rather, wording similar to the Declaration’s passage on rights and freedoms can be found in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which stated months before the writing of the congressional declaration that “…all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights” (Mason 1776). The existence of this similarity, among others, is largely a result of the popularity of the Enlightenment in the Colonial United States, which emphasized the importance of freedom, individual rights, and independent thought. As a result, Thomas Jefferson’s now-glorified assertion that “All men are created equal” failed to gain much attention among contemporary readers (Maier 1999, p.876). This is
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