“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”
Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. By issuing this document, some of England's colonies in North America announced to the world that they were separating from England and forming a new, independent nation. Many ideas in the Declaration were inspired by English philosopher John Locke. He believed that all people were born with certain natural rights. As you study about other parts of the world this year, you will have a chance to see how the ideas of the Declaration have affected people in other places.
Read this opening section of the Declaration of Independence aloud. As you read, think about the ideas it expresses.
What point is Jefferson making about the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
Based on this passage, what is a “just,” or fair, government?
How could the ideas expressed in this section of the Declaration be used to justify a political revolution?
endowed, v. given; provided
unalienable, adj., not to be taken away
deriving, v., getting from a source
consent, n., agreement