Kid's Guide to the Declaration of Independence

by Scott Grabel

The Declaration of Independence is an important part of American history. In the years leading up to the colonists deciding to write the Declaration of Independence, they were under the control and rule of England. The colonists in America were already in a war against England, fighting for their independence. Some important men in the new American government decided that they had to write a letter to tell the world that they were an independent nation. Five men were chosen to work together to write this letter, which became the Declaration of Independence.

The main purpose of this declaration was to outline America's reasons for wanting independence from England. The colonists had already separated themselves from England as much as they could. They had taken steps to create a separate government and military. The colonists had even made their own currency that they used instead of British money. The five men who worked on this project were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Thomas Jefferson was the man who wrote the letter. He explained that a group of people have the right to come together for change if a government is exerting too much control. Thomas Jefferson also made a point about a government needing the consent of the people it governs and wrote that England no longer had the colonists' consent to govern them.

Thomas Jefferson and the other men in the group presented their letter to the American congress on June 28, 1776. The men who were part of the Continental Congress of America had some differing opinions about this letter. Some men liked it right away, but others thought it was important for the new country to have alliances with other countries before they made this formal declaration of their independence. The Continental Congress did agree that a unanimous vote was needed, so they met to discuss the declaration for several days. On July 2, 1776, they voted on the Declaration of Independence. All of the colonies voted for the declaration except one. New York abstained from voting, which means that it opted not to cast a vote, because its representatives hadn't been given permission from the state to vote yet.

The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence officially on July 4, 1776. This was a very important moment in American history because it signified America's official separation from England. Since this date, America has continued to celebrate its independence with summer picnics, parties, parades, and fireworks. With these annual celebrations, America also continues to uphold and value the principles outlined in the original Declaration of Independence. One of the main principles is that everyone was created equal with rights to have a life of freedom and happiness. The founding fathers did not think that the government should be able to have unfair power over the people of a country. This unfair power might involve restricting rights to own property or to make statements. America continues to function as a country thanks to the vision of the men who worked to institute its government.