American Values in the Declaration of Independence Essay

1258 Words Mar 23rd, 2012 6 Pages
American Values of the Declaration of Independence In 1776, a semi-unified country signed one of the most important documents in history. Since then the nation has shown signs of how different the country was from 1776 to the present. The Declaration of Independence is based on the social contract theory of government and is focused on equality, freedom, and power.These values have been both supported and contradicted in American history (Jefferson, pg.443). In the declaration, Jefferson states 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” (Jefferson, pg.443). This speaks directly to the humanist theory of …show more content…
When Jefferson stated that the United States were to be free, it began a period of time where Americans would begin to decide just what it meant to be an American. Values would be adopted; a cultural identity far removed from that of Europe would be founded. America, while separating itself from Britain, still had to wrestle with the fact that the rest of the world thought them nothing more than degenerate barbarians who were bucking the control of their superiors. However, between the landing at Plymouth Rock and the Revolutionary War, those little colonies had grown apart from Great Britain. Not just in distance but in cultural values as well. Feudal Britain could not understand the democratic America and vice versa. The humanist theories of the autonomy of the human spirit had really taken root in America whereas in Britain and other parts of the world the ideas were little more than words since there were already monarchical governments in place. While it is true that America based many of its systems on British techniques, there’s no denying that the emphasis of power and control rest far more readily in the rights of the individual rather than the rights of the nation.
Of course this is not to say that America doesn’t have a few skeletons in their closet. Americans still to this day value their freedom and the idea of self-governance, but there was a time in history when this was forgotten. Around the turn of the twentieth
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