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Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence was the most important milestone in the history of American society as well as in the history of entire mankind. The most significant document of the future United States was the political proclamation of independence of 13 North American colonies from the British crown. Having been adopted on July, 4, 1776, it could be divided into three parts: a statement of principle concerning the rights of man and the legitimacy of revolution, a list of specific grievances against England's King George III, and a formal claim of independence. 1 The innovative idea of the Declaration of Independence was that it was focused not to vague political ideas aimed to protect the political system as it was but it was targeted to declare, admit and protect the natural rights of the human being as a member of democratic society. The ideas of natural rights as those given to human beings by the Creator were developed by the best philosophers and thinkers. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. 2 These unalienable rights were stated by the British philosopher John Locke in his Second Treatise on Government. The proclamation of Declaration of Independence was the result of important political events occurred in the second half of the 18 th century.
The policy of the British Empire could not satisfy the inhabitants of America. The British Crown considered its colonies to be the source of enriching the empire. According to British rulers the colonies existed to benefit the mother country... This economic idea was known as mercantilism.
Adam Smith developed the idea of a fixed amount of wealth in the world. That means that wealth could be either redistributed among countries or explored additionally. Such redistribution could be done by means of war only. The British Empire imported a lot of resources from the colonies in the form of raw materials thus increasing its wealth. That was the economy supported by force and unfair political solutions imposed on the colonies by the colonizers. The 1754 - 1763 war between Britain and France was victorious for the British, but it was it either ruinous for the British economy and empire demanded additional revenues from its colonies to cover the war expenses.
The British issued a number of Acts leading to the confrontation between the royal power and colonists in the North America. Royal Proclamation of 1763 prohibited settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains. That Proclamation did not in fact have serious significance for the settlers but such forcible will caused protests because the settlers considered it a violation of their rights. The Sugar and Currency Bills of 1764 imposed new limitations on the political and economic activity in the colonies. The first one passed to raise revenue by increasing duties on foreign sugar imported from the West Indies and the second Bill ordered that no American assembly would be allowed to issue paper bills or bills of credit. This decision was based on the opinion of the Parliament that the numerous paper currencies that had been issued in America had caused devaluation harmful to British trade. 3 The Quartering and Stamp Acts imposed new forms of extortion on the colonies.
The Quartering Act of 1764 put the obligation on Americans to house and feed the British troops if necessary. The necessity of putting the soldiers to America could be caused by one reason only; the case when the royal army was intended to suppress the discontent of the colonies by the force. It was no doubt offensive for the colonies to support the troops which were supposed to press the social movement for the liberation from the colonial rule. The Stamp Act of the same year required tax stamps on many different trade items and documents including playing cards, legal papers, newspapers and marriage licenses. 4 The British explained this tax was supposed to cover the British expenses for the colonies defense.
But at that time when Britain was weakened by the war the colonies needed only the defense from the further British economic and political expansion. This tax in fact was supposed to finance the British possible aggression against the colonies which was extremely abusive for the American settlers. Further legal steps of the British colonizers caused more tensions in relations of the crown with the North American colonies. Townshend Acts (1767) and Tea Act of 1773 led to the first open confrontation of the British with the colonies known as Boston Tea Party.
Townshend Acts imposed new duties on glass, paper and tea. Smugglers increased their activities and this was the reason of bringing more colonial troops to Boston. Tea Act of 1773 was the act of protectionism to assist the failing British East India Company which was given a monopoly to trade tea in America. On December 16, 1773 a group of colonists dressed like Indians threw into sea the bags with tea belonging to East India Company from the vessels. The British rulers responded by Intolerable Acts of 1774 which prohibited public actions and closed the Boston Harbor. Intolerable Acts of 1774 were the acts restricting the political freedoms of the colonists.
These acts resembled the agonizing actions of the weaken empire to save its influence in America. Great Britain had lost its military and political power in the conflicts of the first half of the 18 th century and tried to show its power by unequal legislative acts. The confrontation was going on and the representatives of 12 colonies met in Philadelphia in September-October, 1774 and decided to start actions boycotting the British goods. The newly created association coordinated the anti-British boycott. It was understood that the military confrontation was inevitable In April, 1775, British troops were ordered to Lexington and Concord to seize stores of colonial gunpowder and to capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock. At Lexington, open conflict occurred and eight Americans were killed.
At Concord, the British troops were forced to retreat with the loss of 70 men. This was the first event of open warfare 5. The problem of the Royal power was that it was unable to realize and accept the new political realities. The actions of the British king had the agonizing character aimed to save the global power lost in the military conflicts of the first part of the 18 th century. The Declaration of Independence was the logical historical document which stated the basic rights and freedoms of the British colonies.
Though the document had the declarative character and stated the basic freedoms de-facto, it outlined the main principles of formation of the political power based on the freedom and democracy as the main priorities of the civil society. Citation Encarta The Declaration of Independence. Martin Kelly Ibid Ibid Bibliography Declaration of Independence, Encyclopedia Article, Encarta, available at web retrieved 2. 11. 2006 The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies, available at web retrieved 2. 11. 2006. The Declaration of Independence Study Guide from Martin Kelly, available at web retrieved 2. 11. 2006
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