Declaration of Independence is a speech delivered by Jefferson when America got liberated from Colonialism in 1776 AD. The content of this speech was significantly influenced by Locke’s philosophy. It mainly focuses on equality, property rights, slavery and appeal to a higher power.
Concept of Equality
In the second paragraph, Jefferson says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident 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.”
The phrase “all men are created equal” depicts the central theme of this essay. This phrase can be explained from three perspectives.
- First, there should be equality i.e. no European should be considered superior to American and similarly, no American should be considered inferior to European.
- Secondly, it refers to gender equality as well.
- Thirdly, the word “created” depicts the stern belief of the founders, in God.
God here probably doesn’t refer to the theological deity but Nature. The essay is borrowed from Locke’s philosophy. Hence the statement is well justified.
Fundamental Rights as Proposed by Jefferson
Jefferson says that every person on earth should have right to property, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. God (or in other words, Nature) has given these rights to every person in the world.
These rights should be accessible to every individual under all circumstances. Jefferson explains how the British are doing atrocities on Americans by violating these fundamental rights and adopting discriminatory behaviour.
Right to Life
The first concept taken from Locke’s philosophy is the Right to Life. The phrase doesn’t simply refer to existing on earth but has a deeper meaning. Jefferson stresses on the fact that God (or Nature) gave birth to humans on earth and life is a gift from Him to everyone.
No one should have the authority to snatch away ‘living’ of a person by making him his slave nor he should prefer the life of one person (here, European) over that of another (here, American) one in the wars. The life of every individual should be considered equally valuable.
Right to Liberty
The next concept borrowed from Locke’s theory is the Right to Freedom. Their discriminatory policy towards Americans and favouritism towards fellow Europeans violated the liberty and freedom of Americans. The Right to Freedom should be equal for all. No one’s freedom should be snatched away.
Right to the Pursuit of Happiness
Nature has given every person Right to be Happy and quest for happiness. Every person struggles for happiness. The atrocities of the British violated the fundamental right of Americans thus Jefferson condemned the British for their violence.
He assured his people that the new government will retain this fundamental for the Americans. It is also pointed out that every person has Right to Property (it indicates their preference for capitalism). Every person has full freedom to have a property to his will.
Having said that he says that all these rights are by birth. If any person or government takes them away, it becomes important to revolt against it. Hence if the Amercian Revolution against British is well justified.