How to Use
Thomas Jefferson based many of his political ideas on the writings of European Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke and Montesquieu. Like these scholars, Jefferson asserted that governments must represent the governed and protect man's natural rights of life and liberty.
To answer the questions below, please refer to the provided partial transcript of the Declaration of Independence.
Questions for Document 1
1. What is the purpose of government according to the Declaration? What are the major situations it identifies as justification for overthrowing a government?
2. Why did the colonies feel justified in separating from Great Britain? How did the colonies attempt to resolve differences before deciding to establish a separate nation?
3. If you had been a member of an enslaved or free black family at this time, what might you have thought about the language of the Declaration? How real would claims of natural rights, equal rights, and the blessings of liberty have seemed in your life?
4. Briefly paraphrase each excerpt. What is the general tone of the document?
* The small image on this screen will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Document 1, but be aware that the file may take as much as 90 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.