The declaration of independence was an announcement to the world by the United States of America that it (USA) was no longer among the conglomerate of nations that were under the rule of the British Empire. It had now joined the sovereign states hence just like other free and independent states it had the powers to wage war, form alliances with other nations, declare peace, carry out commercial dealings with other nations and do all other things that the sovereign states were entitled to do. This was aptly summarized in the opening statement that declared to all that the Citizens of the USA were a single and united people who had decided to be free and independent equal to any other sovereign state nation as the natural laws and God entitled them[ CITATION Tho02 \l 1033 ]. The “powers of the earth” in the declaration of independence referred to other nations that were sovereign hence formed an international audience of the declaration of independence. The declaration of independence was a declaration of interdependence whose primary goal was to convert a civil war that was being waged among Britons into a legal war among the nations under the law of nations[ CITATION Tho02 \l 1033 ].
2.0 Thomas Jefferson’s Convictions on Human Rights
Thomas Jefferson and other signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners but this did not hamper them from signing into effect a document that declared that “all men were free and equal” [ CITATION AnNd \l 2057 ]. Thomas Jefferson in particular voiced his strong opposition to the practice by stating that “rights of human nature [were] deeply wounded by this infamous practice”[ CITATION Bri96 \l 1033 ]. Prior to the infusion of the statement that all men are born free in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson himself a slave owner had written a strongly worded document that denounced slavery [ CITATION San05 \l 1033 ]. In this draft Jefferson strongly advocated for human rights stating that all humans are equal.
In the original draft of the Declaration of independence, Jefferson categorically stated that the Christian King of Britain had waged a brutal war against humanity and violated divinely endowed human rights of life and freedom on a people from far who had never affronted him by capturing them and enslaving them in a foreign land far from home where they would suffer inhumane treatment even unto death[ CITATION Bri93 \l 2057 ]. He also added that the king of Britain added to the unbearable torture by prohibiting any attempt to introduce legislature that would outlaw the inhumane trade. Jefferson went on to point out that the king of Britain was also involved in murder in stating that “he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another”[ CITATION San05 \l 1033 ].
The strong denunciation of slavery did not augur well with the other Founders of the nation thus they were haste in calling for a revision of the document to scrap statements that were too explicit in discouraging slavery. This was because most of them including Jefferson were slave owners and needed the cheap, easily available labor that the slaves provided particularly in the Deep South. Thomas Jefferson was therefore torn between being a slave owner and his moral conviction that all men are equal and are therefore endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The original draft of the declaration of independence by Jefferson therefore provided a framework that would later be the basis for the fight for the emancipation of slaves [ CITATION Tho02 \l 1033 ].
3.0 The Role of Government in protecting Human rights
Thomas Jefferson was a pioneer in stating the role of good governance in the protection of the rights of its citizens. In clearly stating that the governments are only established among men based on the authority and approval from the governed, Jefferson and other founders of the nation declared that the government was not an autonomous body rather it was a body whose powers were derived from the people who had the right to chose what they deemed the right system of government for them. For this reason, whenever any government contravenes the rights of the people, the people were entitled to chose a different government and get rid of the dysfunctional one. They were free to institute a government that would protect their “right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”[ CITATION San05 \l 1033 ].
The Founders of the nation demonstrated their resolve to no longer be under an oppressive and dictatorial ruler ship under the king of Britain under whose leadership their rights had continually been ignored and abused. In the words in the declaration of independence it is clear that the founding fathers believed that the citizens held the sovereign power, responsibility and right not only to appoint their government but to throw out a government that oppresses and abuses them and institute another that protects their rights. Indeed they went ahead to state that USA and other British colonies had suffered long but a time to change the system of government and thus gain independence had come[ CITATION San05 \l 1033 ]. Among the atrocities of the King of Britain were: his refusal to approve of laws that would be beneficial to the public, neglecting his duty by ignoring the pleas of the governors to approve of pressing laws, harassing the governors by calling them to unnecessary and unproductive meetings, imposing taxes, cutting off ties of trade with other nations, transporting them abroad for mock trials, unfair dissolution of the legislative houses and suppression of attempts to constitute others that could not be easily annihilated. He also took part in the plundering of America by ordering his armies to ravaging the seas, ordering for the arson of towns and destroying lives of people. [ CITATION Tho02 \l 1033 ]
The declaration of independence therefore made provision for the American people to be independent from the continued oppression and suppression of their rights. It set a precedent for other nations that were under the rulership of the king of Britain to cede from its rulership and be independent politically, economically and military wise. It was also a statement of the failed attempts that had been made the United States to seek reprieve from the atrocities of the king of Britain. The Americans had reminded the Britons from time to time of the journey of their emigration and settlement. They had also made several attempts to stop the uncalled for exercise of unjust rulership by the British government. Diplomatic methods had also been applied in order to disengage the Britons from their high and mighty approach towards the Americans in attempt to severe the unhealthy connections.[ CITATION Bri96 \l 1033 ]
In conclusion the declaration of independence is one of the most influential documents which transcend time and boundaries. It enshrines values that are not just applicable to the Americans at that time but to other nations as well. This is because of its firm basis on the equality of all men and the protection of the rights of all men by the “government that is instituted by men.”This is a vital constituent of most sovereign states and regarded as a tenet in the protection of human rights. It must be noted that the Founding fathers, through the declaration of independence, declared the sovereignty of the USA, the equality of all human beings and the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of the citizenry. Thomas Jefferson is credited for providing the principle ideas of the declaration of independence.
An. Declaration of Independence. Nd. 18 June 2011
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