Understanding the Declaration of Independence
1. The laws of nature and God are the laws that have existed since the beginning of time. Jefferson was referring to the laws that were common to all the people. Jefferson believed that God had equipped people with laws even before the formation of the civil laws. Through the laws of nature, people recognize that they have the right to life, and they have the right to seek their happiness by enjoying their freedom.
2. The function of the government is to protect people’s rights. The government should ensure that people’s lives are protected. It also has the function of protecting people’s freedom, and ensuring that they are able to pursue their happiness. These are the God given rights to the people, and the government functions to preserve those rights. The people expect the government to protect their rights. Failure for the government to do this gives the people the right to abolish such a government and to form a new one that will protect their interests and freedom.
3. I think that Jefferson gives women equal treatment to men. Although he begins by declaring that all men are created equal, I believe that he does include women in this sentence since women are also part of God’s creation. I think that he uses the term men to refer to humanity, rather than gender. He continues to say that God has endowed His creation with alienable rights. Women have the right to have the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is possible to determine Jefferson’s view on women from the document. Jefferson includes women when he refers to people’s right to abolish the government that does not preserve their rights. He says that it is the right of the people to abolish or alter such a government. He recognizes the importance of women, and indeed all people, in ensuring that they have the right government. By including women in the governing decisions of the country, I do not think that Jefferson favors a patriarchal system.
4. The second paragraph of the Declaration contains use of parallel structure. Jefferson uses parallel structure in identifying the self-evident truths. He repeats the word that, beginning every concept of truth that he introduces. He declares that all men are created equal, are endowed, and that among the rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This makes it clear for the reader to understand these truths. The sentences, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” and “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is right of the people to abolish it” are of equivalent construction. This enhances balance in the periodic sentence.
5. The causes concerning the king’s refusal to recognize laws are serious. This includes the refusal to assent to laws, forbidding the government to pass laws of immediate importance, refusing to pass laws to accommodate large districts of people, and refusing to assent to laws aimed at establishing judiciary powers. These causes are serious because they show the lack of respect for the laws. The king does not consider the legislation important, and this enables him to change the law at will. The decision of the king not to consider this law means that he can establish laws that harass and oppress the people. This is the basis for cause 19 where the king has imposed taxes on the people without their consent. It also means that the king does not recognize the laws of others. This is the basis for cause 15, where the king has combined with others to subject the people to a jurisdiction, which their law does not recognize.