What was the importance of the Declaration of Independence for the Founding Fathers?

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Answered by: Andrew, An Expert in the American History by Era Category
July 4, 1776 is an important date in American history. Every child in schools across the country learned about how on this day the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. What many people do not realize is how dangerous the document truly was and how the event building up to it would have led to the deaths of many important figures in American history.

When Thomas Jefferson was given the task of writing a document which would allow the United States to break away from Great Britain, he sat down at his desk in Philadelphia with the knowledge that the war which had only begun a year earlier could potentially be either won or lost at the drop of a hat. For years, the Americans had dealt with unlawful taxation by the British Parliament in order to pay for the legislative bills being brought forth in England. At first these new tax laws were seen as inconveniences being placed upon the people. Over time, Americans felt their rights were being threatened as the new tax laws also came with new judicial procedures which led to Americans being sent to England for trial when a crime was committed.

For a number of generations, Americans enjoyed the liberty of having a free trial in their own colonies. With this right threatened, many began to question whether or not it was necessary for a king or a legislative body three thousand miles away to govern an entire society across the Atlantic Ocean.

On April 19, 1775, the first shots of the war were fired at Lexington green. Although the day's bloodshed were be the first drops in the bucket, the result proved devastating. King George III would eventually come to declare that the American colonies were in a state of rebellion and would hire Hessian mercenaries to enter the colonies and destroy the rebels. For the Americans, this was one of the greatest insults they had ever received. Americans had, up to this point, seen themselves as loyal Englishmen. Now, they began to see themselves as independent individuals.

So it came to pass that Thomas Jefferson, bottling up all of the passions of the American people, took his quill, dipped it into the inkwell, and began to write the Declaration of Independence. With each stroke of the quill, the document we wrote would list all of the reasons for why the Americans felt they had the right to rebel against the king and create their own nation. By the time he had finished, the document would begin by saying "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal".

However, what many people did not realize was that the Founding Fathers knew something else about this document. They understood that the document also carried with it a heavy price. If the Americans were to lose the war, it would be the sole piece of evidence for their treason trial. With this knowledge in hand, the Founding Fathers ended the document with a line which proved the importance of what it was that they fought for. They said, "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 and our most sacred honor."

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