Modern Day Relevance of The Declaration of Independence Essay

969 Words 4 Pages
Modern Day Relevance of The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents produced by an American thinker. Reading The Declaration of Independence presents the reader with a window into the world of revolutionary America. It conveys the dynamic nature of the time better than any written work of the period. The real importance of The Declaration of Independence lies not in the purpose for which Jefferson created it, to declare independence from Great Britain, but rather how future generations have interpreted Jefferson's words. Jefferson's document originally guaranteed basic rights for a select segment of the American population. Today it has become a document which has been
…show more content…
The main problem faced by Americans in the Antebellum time period was whether or not to abolish the institution of African American slavery. Many abolitionists, such as Andrew Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas, among others, would use the moving language of The Declaration of Independence to attack Southern slaveholders for keeping their fellow human beings in bondage. They claimed the current government was failing to secure the rights of, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," for a sizable portion of the American population.

Clearly the fact that the creator of The Declaration of Independence owned slaves made it hard to believe that the aim of the document was to secure the rights of the African-American population. In fact, Jefferson believed that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites, and incapable of sustaining the Republic. He argued for a theory on creation that was dismissed by other intellectuals of the time called the "Theory of Polygenesis." This theory was based on the assumption that God had not created humankind all at once, rather God had created the different races at different times. Jefferson believed God had created people of European origin to be superior to other races, and that people of African ancestry were not related to whites genetically. He used this theory to justify slavery even though he thought that the institution itself was detrimental to the
Open Document