The Declaration of Independence

It’s commonly believed that on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress signed and adopted the statement known as the Declaration of Independance, although some historians dispute the actual date of the signing, believing that the statement was actually singed on August 22, 1776. This statement proclaimed that 13 American colonies to be a sovereign nation separate and independent from Great Britain. The resolution was put forth by John Adams, and the document itself was composed by Thomas Jefferson. Independence was declared from Great Britain more than a year after the American Revolutionary War had begun in 1775.

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independance served as an inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln during his tenure. He felt that the principles involved in the Declaration of Independance were essential to the spirit of the United States, and that government should closely adhere to them. President Lincoln did not believe that the statement “all men are created equal” applied only to white men, and that slavery was against the basic tenets of the Declaration of Independance. One of the men who signed the Declaration of Independance, William Whipple, freed his own slaves because he felt that he could not champion liberty while remaining a slave-owner.

The Civil War was largely fought because of Lincoln’s strong belief that the act of owning slaves made a mockery of the Declaration of Independance. A century later, the principles of the Declaration of Indepenance has came into play in much the same way during the Civil Rights Movement as they had during the Civil War.

Other countries have been inspired by the Declaration of Independance as well. Leaders of the French Revolution were aided in the composition of The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen by Thomas Jefferson. The Manifesto of the Province of Flanders directly borrowed language and ideas from the Declaration of Independance, and in 1811, citizens of Venezuela produced a document called the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence. Other countries followed suit, and the Declaration of Independance had a fairly strong international influence during the 19th century.