American Documents: The Declaration of Independence
Judith Lloyd Yero
Ages 8 to 10
National Geographic, 2004, 0-7922-5397-3
All was not well in the American colonies. The people there were showing signs that they were not content with the current state of affairs and that they were chafing under British rule. One of the reasons for this was that over time the Americans has become more and more self-sufficient and yet the King of England insisted that they had to buy English goods even if they could make the same goods themselves. For example the Americans had to buy English iron goods even though they were producing their own raw iron and had the means to work it.
Another reason for the overall discontent was that the Americans were getting fed up with being told what to do as if they were children who needed discipline. This particular grievance was made all the more onerous because the Americans were excluded from the law making process. It was one thing to live under laws that you create for yourself and quite another to live under the laws that someone else imposes on you. This lack of self-government was making more and more Americans think that the time had come for them to take charge of their own destinies.
Added to these already considerable problems was the fact that the Americans were expected to help fight and pay for England’s wars. The Americans had to pay high taxes to help the English government pay for their debts and this was a state of affairs that the Americans were not willing to accept any longer. The time had come to show England and her King that the Americans wanted to be their own people.
Thus it was that they got organized and set down on paper their grievances and their hopes for the future. The document that they created came to be called the Declaration of Independence.
In addition to telling the story of the early days of the American struggle for independence, the author helps her readers understand how important the Declaration was and what it says. At the back of the book she has included the text of the Declaration and the text of Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft showing how it differs from the final version adopted by the Founders. Finally she includes the Constitution of Virginia, a list of grievances which formed the basis for much of the Declaration.
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