Declaration Of Independence Questions
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1. In the first paragraph of the declaration, Jefferson states the reason for the writing of this document. What reason does he give? To create a more equal government.
2. Where does a government acquire its power, according to the declaration? From the consent of the governed.
3. What are the “unalienable rights” that Jefferson states?
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
4. Who or what does Jefferson hold accountable for most of the problems the colonies are suffering through? The King of Great Britain.
5. What tone does the final statement of the Declaration of Independence display? A sense of pride and strength.
Is this tone effective in conveying the importance of this document? Yes.
6. Jefferson speaks of “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God.” What does he mean by this? Give an example of a law that might be contrary to “the laws of nature.”
7. Find and write the dictionary meaning for the word “self-evident.” Jefferson mentions four truths, which he says are “self-evident.” Name these and argue for or against the notion that they are indeed “self-evident.” Not needing to be demonstrated or explained; obvious.
8. Find and write the meaning to the phrase “absolute despotism.” Jefferson says it is the “right and duty” of mankind to fight this “absolute despotism.” Why? Absolute power or control; tyranny. He is saying the King has too much power over the colonies and he is saying it is their right to revolt and fight the tyrant King. 9. Compare the tone or attitude expressed towards the British people with that towards King George III. List and explain those words that aid you to understand this tone. The British people are referred to as “our British brethren.” The colonists and the British share a “common kindred”. Their unselfishness is seen through the word magnanimity. But they are like their king, “have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” The British people must be seen, as the rest of the world is seen, as “enemies in war, in peace, friends.”
The king and Parliament must take the force of the colonist “wrath.” It is the king who is charged with all their wrong. His history is one “of repeated injuries and usurpations.” Because he desires to establish “absolute tyranny”. 10. Find, list and explain an example of parallel structure in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson uses the word “tyranny” or “tyrant” a lot in the Declaration of Independence. He uses this word to show just how brutal the King has become and why they need to gain independence from Great Britain. 11. Most often, well-chosen words and a logical, clear style help a writer to succeed at persuasion. But, if you are dealing with a mature audience, words alone may not always make your case. Evidence is required to prove your case.
Jefferson uses concrete details to prove his argument against King George. If you were reading this as an American colonist, which of these details or reasons would be the most persuasive to you? The fact that he kept repeating the words tyranny and tyrant would really sell it to me. He is really convincing the fact the King has become bad. 12. While listing the reasons, Jefferson changes the opening word in his paragraphs from “He” to “For.” What is the purpose of this shift? It is obvious that “He” is referring to King George. When he transitions to “For”, he is listing the specific legislation determined to be the most shocking violations of the colonist rights mutually agreed upon until King George III’s reign.