US Declaration Of Independence: US DeclarationofIndependence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Drafts, Analysis & Interpretation

Drafts, Analysis and Interpretation
The words Declaration of Independence have two common variant spellings: Déclaration of Independence and Declaration of Independance. In web site documents, these words are sometimes written in the following compacted forms: DeclarationofIndependence, DéclarationofIndependence, or DeclarationofIndependance. The words Declaration of Independence are also abbreviated: DOI or DofI. The word checklist is sometimes written check list.
The Different Drafts 

(The following is taken from James Brown Scott's, "The United States of America: A Study in International Organization." New York, Oxford University Press, 1920.) In June 1776 the Continental Congress selected a committee of five to draft a Declaration of Independence. The committee, which was composed of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, selected Thomas Jefferson to prepare the initial draft. Jefferson began his work on June 11th. After preparing several drafts, he concluded his work with a final draft called Jefferson's Rough Draft. Slight alterations to the Rough Draft were made by committee members Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. Then, on June 28th the Committee Draft was submitted to the Continental Congress. On July 2nd the Continental Congress voted for independence. Afterwards, the Congress made additional changes to the Committee Draft. The Final Declaration of Independence was printed by John Dunlap on the night of July 4th.

Analysis and Interpretation

An analysis and interpretation of the Declaration of Independence has led researchers to reach important conclusions. According to E. C. Hartwell, the Declaration of Independence is a forcible statement of the intentions, political principles, and grievances of the colonies.— Hartwell's "Story Hour Readings Eighth Year," 1921.

Analysis also shows that the Declaration of Independence consists of three different parts:

  • a preamble
  • a list of grievances
  • a conclusion

The preamble states the right of peoples to set up government for themselves and to change their forms of government at their sovereign pleasure. The grievances are those suffered at the hands of George II, king of Great Britain. The conclusion is a declaration of independence based upon the rights of the colonies asserted in the preamble and justified by the enumerated grievances.

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence they were seeking independence from England. Today, the Declaration of Independence is more a statement of American ideals than a listing of grievances.

Analysis of the Hosting Works

In the years following 1776, the Declaration of Independence was reprinted many times in different works (called hosting works). We know that together the hosting works trace a history of how our early American ancestors felt about their independence and freedom. Yet, little work has been done to study the full impact of how the Declaration of Independence has affected events and peoples' lives over time, mainly because of the time and effort required to locate the works to be studied. Notwithstanding, a history of the Declaration of Independence demands that we include an analysis of the hosting works and an analysis of the impact that the Declaration of Independence has had on U.S. History.

As said, this task has been impeded by the massive amount of work required by each individual researcher, alone, to identify and locate the hosting works to be studied. Moreover, a count of the number of such works has heretofore been unavailable, making it impossible to even "size" the amount of work required to identify and locate these hosting works.

Fortunately, the necessary up front work has recently been accomplished for years 1776-1825. The findings are these: There are 358 works (books, pamphlets, and periodicals), 1776-1825, that reprint the full text of the Declaration of Independence in English. Two-thirds of these works do not mention the Declaration of Independence in their titles. But, all of these works are now easily identified and located, as the 358 works reprinting the Declaration of Independence have been gathered together in a checklist, now made available to the public.

Free Free Free Free Free 
A free PDF copy of the checklist can be downloaded from the Home Page. You can also purchase a hardbound copy of the checklist at a most reasonable price. See the Home Page for additional details and offerings. 
The checklist has 400 entries. Of these, 358 reprint the full text of the Declaration of Independence, in English. The remainder are ancillary or continuation volumes. The number of works in each general subject area are these: History 126, Law 103, Political Science 29, Law and Political Science 78, Biography 17, and Other 47. Researchers, instructors, and students of history, law and political science should be especially benefited by the checklist.  
Return to the Home Page.