The Declaration of Independence Quotes by Thomas Jefferson
History Brief: The Declaration of Independence
While the Declaration of Independence had many influences, the most notable was the influence of the Social Contract. The Social Contract is the agreement between the government and its citizens, and defines the rights of each party. John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau are most notable for the creation of the social contract political philosophy.
The Declaration of Independence Quotes
Natural rights and legal rights are two types of rights. Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are universal and inalienable they cannot be repealed by human laws, though one can forfeit their enforcement through one's actions, such as by violating someone else's rights. Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system they can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws. The concept of natural law is related to the concept of natural rights. Natural law first appeared in ancient Greek philosophy ,  and was referred to by Roman philosopher Cicero. It was subsequently alluded to in the Bible ,  and then developed in the Middle Ages by Catholic philosophers such as Albert the Great and his pupil Thomas Aquinas. During the Age of Enlightenment , the concept of natural laws was used to challenge the divine right of kings , and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract , positive law , and government — and thus legal rights — in the form of classical republicanism.
Documents of Freedom lesson on the Declaration of Independence. Voices of History lesson on the Declaration of Independence. 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
Fighting at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill had already broken out between the colonists and British troops. Even so, most in Congress wanted to work out some mutual agreement with the mother country. Soon after Jefferson arrived in Philadelphia, Congress assigned him to draft a document explaining why the colonists had taken up arms against England. Even at this late date, the Congress still blamed only Parliament and the king's government ministers, not King George himself, for the growing conflict. Jefferson's Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms stopped short of declaring independence, but pointed out the folly of governing the American colonies from England.