Facts About The Declaration of Independence
Fact: The Revolutionary War had already begun when The Declaration of Independence was written.
Analysis: Reasons for The Declaration of Independence must not exclude political ones. The war with Great Britain had been going on for over a year and it was not going well. As the delegates met in Philadelphia, the invasion of Canada had just failed and colonial leaders had received news that German mercenaries were on their way to fight for the British.
The war needed a purpose. The Continental Congress had to rally the colonists and they had to elicit help from foreign powers. The best way to do so was to declare independence.
In addition to political reasons for The Declaration of Independence, Pauline Maier writes in her introduction to The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States that "in 1776 the Americans decided that the preservation of their liberty was incompatible with monarchy and hereditary rule" (Maier 2).
Fact: After the initial excitement over independence, the declaration was not considered a critical document for 30 years.
Analysis: Ideas contained in George Mason's Virginia's Declaration of Rights had a greater influence on the creation of state governments and on the United States Constitution after the Revolutionary War. It wasn't until the early 1800s that the Declaration, along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, became "statements of belief and practice written during the American Revolution to which generation after generation of Americans has returned for guidance"1 (1).