Graphic Organizer: The Declaration of Independence and Equality in U.S. History
Guiding Questions: Why have Americans consistently appealed to the Declaration of Independence throughout U.S. history? How have the ideals in the Declaration of Independence impacted the struggle for equality throughout U.S. history?
- I can interpret primary sources related to Founding principles and Civic Virtues.
- I can create an argument using evidence from primary sources.
- I can explain how Americans have appealed to the Founding principle of equality throughout U.S. history.
Part 1: Revisiting the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, 1776
Introduction: In July 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. Many consider the Declaration of Independence to be the philosophical foundation of American freedom, equality, and self-government, and in the second part of this activity, you will see how the ideas in this document have influenced many other events in U.S. history. The Declaration contains three sections: a general statement of natural rights theory and the purpose of government in the Preamble, a list of grievances against the British king, and a declaration of independence from Great Britain.
|unalienable||impossible to take away|
“We hold these truths to be self-evident [clear without needing proof], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed [given] by their Creator with certain unalienable [impossible to take away] Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted [created] among Men, deriving [receiving] their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
- How does the Declaration state that all humans are equal?
- Where do unalienable rights come from?
- What is the purpose of government?
- From where does government get its power?
Part 2: The Declaration of Independence and Equality in U.S. History
|Document Title and Date||Historical Context||Influence of the Declaration of Independence||Image or Memory Aid|
|Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, 1776||American colonists broke with Great Britain because it did not respect the colonists’ natural rights.|
|Document 1: Petition to the Massachusetts Legislature, 1777|
|Document 2: Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, 1848|
|Document 3: Gettysburg Address, 1863|
|Document 4: The Atlantic Charter, 1941|
|Document 5: “I Have a Dream” speech, 1963|
- Based on the documents you have examined, how has the Declaration of Independence inspired Americans throughout history to help the country live up to its Founding principles?
- Where do you see debates over freedom and equality continuing today? How might the ideas outlined in the Declaration of Independence influence these debates?