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In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms : our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injuries. 125
A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to 130 time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here, we have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties 135 of one common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our 140 separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled, appealing to the supreme Judge of the world for the 145 rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies
and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British 150 crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved ; and that as free and independent, states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other 155
acts and things which independent states may of right do.
And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, 160 and our most sacred honor.
- Written by THOMAS JEFFERSON.
I. GENERAL EXERCISES 1. When, where, by whom, and for what purposes was the Declaration of Independence written? Give any facts that you can recall in regard to the historical circumstances that immediately preceded its adoption.
2. Show that the Declaration has at least four distinct parts, and state the general character of each part.
3. How many self-evident truths are stated in the second paragraph? Which one of these is modified by a following statement?
4. How many direct accusations against the king are made ? Is each one of these charges distinct from all the others ? Can you give a particular illustration of the truth of any of these charges?
5. What are the three definite declarations in regard to the independence of the colonies? By what pledge are they supported ?
While studying this selection, make a list of all the words you do not thoroughly understand; look up pronunciation and fitting definitions.
II. SPECIAL EXERCISES Page 75. 2. What does “dissolve" mean in this use of the word ? What other meaning has it? What are “political bands”? 4. Name some of the great powers of the earth. “ Equal” in what sense ? This implies that there are laws which produce inequality of station : do you know anything of such laws? 9. What is a “self-evident” truth? Men are plainly not equal in physical or mental nature, or in social or business abilities; in what respects are men created “equal”? This clause is often misunderstood and used as a basis for vicious theories of life and society. Be sure to have a clear and correct idea of its intended meaning. In order that it may be enjoyed by all men,
liberty must be defined as the right to do what one pleases, just so long as he does not injure others in any way; it is in reality obedi
obedience to the highest laws of human life. Note also that the Declaration reads, “the pursuit of happiness.” 14. What does “ deriving ” modify? Explain the phrase "froin the consent of the governed.” Has this idea ever been followed perfectly by our government? By any government? What kind of society is necessary in order to put this principle into perfect practice? Is the principle, nevertheless, true? 18. What is meant by the “foundation ” of a government ? 22. Had the government of Great Britain been long established? What had been the policy of the British government toward its colonies? Would it have been possible to have changed that policy if those in authority had wished to do so ?
Page 76. 37. What sort of government is an absolute tyranny? Give an example. What is the principal thought of the second paragraph ? How is it connected with the preceding paragraph ? With what follows? 40. What is the meaning of “wholesome ” as applied to laws ? 41. Explain the phrase “ for the public good.” Show that people are very apt to give such expressions a very narrow meaning. 42. What was the relation of the governors to the king ? To the colonists? 49. How were the people “represented in the legislature”? What is that form of government called? Is it really self-government? 50. Why is such a government “ formidable to tyrants only”?
Page 77. 57. What is the special significance of the word “invasions”? 58. Who determines what the rights of the people are ? 60. What is meant by “ legislative powers ”? What two other kinds of power are included in the government of the United States? Which of the three is necessarily first in time? Why cannot these powers be annihilated ? Give an example, real or supposed, of the people's taking the making and executing of the law into their own hands. Is this ever the best thing to do? 64. Give examples from the history of our country of convulsions within a state or nation. 65. What is the meaning of “population" as used here? In what sense were the colonies states? 67. What is meant by “naturalization of foreigners ”? 76. Is the word “erected” correct here? Can you substitute a better word ? 78. What is meant by “eat out their substance”? Can you reconstruct this sentence so as to give it greater force ? Many changes were made in the wording of the original draft of the Declaration during the debate which preceded its adoption. 81. What does “affected” mean here?
INTROD, LESS. IN ENG. LIT. - -6
Compare “effect” in line 20. 83. “Subject" is what part of speech? how pronounced ? 84. What is meant by “our constitutions”? 87. What is a " mock trial ” ?
Page 78. 90. Define “imposing” as used here. Some taxes are still called “imposts.” 92. The principle of trial by jury was believed in a feeble fashion by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Teutons, but it was usually soon subdued by imperial theories of government. This method of determining justice became woven into the common law practices of England, and was firmly established as a fundamental element of English liberty when it was embodied in the Magna Charta (Great Charter) which was signed by King John in 1215 A.D. Our forefathers made the principle a permanent part of American liberty by writing it into the Constitution of the United States, in Article III, Section 2, “ The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury;” etc. 94. What neighboring province is meant? 102. Who are meant by themselves”? 108. Who were these “foreign mercenaries”? In what battle of the Revolution did they take a prominent part? 109–113. Does intense feeling overcome the restraints of judgment in this passage ? 115. What waters are meant by “the high seas”? What war was caused by the continuation of this practice after the Revolution ? 118. Give an example of an “insurrection.” Should the verb “incited” be used here instead of “excited”? 121. “Undistinguished ” — can you give a more exact word? How did Hawthorne use this word in “ Feathertop”?
Page 79. 126. Why is the king of Great Britain here called “ A prince”? 133. “ Emigration distinguish from “migration” and “immigration.” 138. What does “ correspondence” mean here? 140. Is “ denounces” the best word here? 142. Notice the force of this construction; it seems to stick in one's memory. 150. Compare “absolved” with “dissolve” in line two, and point out the difference in meaning.
Page 80. 160. Comment on the use of “mutually” here. Which of these three pledges is considered the dearest and of greatest worth?
“ The Structure and Style of the Declaration of Independence.” Discuss in a connected and orderly manner the structure of the Declaration. What gives it literary as well as political value ?
“ The Importance of the Declaration of Independence.” Why was such a formal statement necessary ? Were the principles set forth in it entirely new and original? What was its effect upon the colonists ? Its importance after the Revolution? How is it regarded by Americans at the present time? What do the other nations of the world think of it?
“ Are All Men created Equal?” In what respects are men unequal as we see them in life? What are the causes of this inequality? In what ways are men all alike, or equal ?
“ The Source of Governmental Authority.” Show that the principle stated in this Declaration is true, in a modified way,
any form of government. What things determine “ the consent of the governed ”?
“ The Necessity for Governments.” Give reasons why people must have a government of some sort or other. Can we think of any conditions in which it would not be necessary to have any government at all? Is it likely that those conditions will be fulfilled in the near future?
Additional subjects for essays, debates, or orations may be assigned by the teacher. The student may write on a subject of his own invention after it has been approved by the teacher,