LITR 4231  Early American Literature 2010

research post 2

Jessica Gaul

The Declaration of Independence: A Fight for Freedom

            When I think of the Declaration of Independence, I always think of the movie ‘National Treasure’. It’s sad to say, but if it was not for that movie, then my attitude and interest for the Declaration of Independence would never have been born. Nicholas Cage quotes one line from the document that set my heart on fire. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security-…  (“Applewood books”, 4) When Cage elaborates on those words, a whole new world opened up to me. It made me realize that, like Cage quotes, “If there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.” (IMDB) It also made me recognize that the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence knew what they were getting themselves into. That one line in the whole document is basically threatening England, yet they still wrote it! The question arises then, why threaten the country of your origin?

            Looking deeper into the Declaration, I realized that finding my answer was going to be fairly easy. Thomas Jefferson uses eloquent language and lists all the wrong things that the King of England has done to them. For example, “For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:-For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:-For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:-“ (“Applewood books, 8-9) The list goes on to explain more complaints about the King and how unfair he is; in fact, there are twenty-seven of them!  The King of England was a very unjust king who abused his power in the filthiest way. In doing so, the men who wrote the Declaration decided to rebel. For example, they dressed up as Indians and dumped out all of the tea in the glorious Boston Tea Party; they boycotted the Stamp Act as well as burned down stamp warehouses, rebelled against Great Britain by setting up small organizations such as The Sons of Liberty, and finally wrote the Declaration of Independence.

            Another question that comes to mind after reading the Declaration, is what the men were thinking when they wrote this. Did they think of the consequences that were going to happen after the king read it? It is obvious that writing the Declaration of Independence was treason. They went against this king by listing all of his faults, but did they even care? There has been much speculation about this question alone. For instance, many people believe that the signer John Hancock wrote his name so big and dramatically was because he was telling the king, “King George won't need his specks to read that.” (“Fun trivia”) John Hancock knew what he was getting himself into and didn’t want to hide from King George. Instead, he mocked him and wrote it bigger than everyone else’s. Others say “he risked it all on the success of the American Revolution…he signed the Declaration in the presence of one person, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress.” (Yahoo answers) After the Declaration was written, “Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died, while twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.” (“Barefoot”)

            It is difficult to truly answer the question, ‘did the men know the consequences of their actions,’ when no one truly knows. No one was there when they wrote it, nor did the men write out a written response to that specific question. It is safe to say that the men knew what they were getting themselves into the minute they decided to write the Declaration of Independence.



"Why did John Hancock sign his name so large and fancy on the Declaration of            Independence?". Fun Trivia: The Trivia and Quiz Community. April 23, 2010

"Why did John Hancock sign his name so big on the Declaration of Independence?". Ask Yahoo. April 23, 2010

"The Declaration of Independence-1776-". Barefoot. April 23, 2010

The Declaration of Independence with Short Biographies of its signers. Bedford: Applewood Books,

"Memorable Quotes for National Treasure". IMDB: The Internet Movie Database. April 22, 2010