Abuses by George III

In the Declaration, Jefferson also detailed the tyrannical “abuses and usurpations” that George III committed against the American colonies. Jefferson claimed that the king had wrongly shut down representative colonial legislatures, refused to allow the colonies to legislate themselves, and convened legislatures at inconvenient locations. He also accused the king of illegally assuming judicial powers and manipulating judges and the court system. Finally, Jefferson claimed that George III had conspired with others (other nations and Native Americans) against the colonists, restricted trade, imposed unjust taxes, forced American sailors to work on British ships, and taken military actions against Americans. Jefferson noted that the colonists had repeatedly petitioned the king to try to restore friendly relations but that he had consistently ignored them. Americans had also appealed to the British people for help on several occasions, again to no avail.

Jefferson concluded that, in light of these facts, the colonists had no choice but to declare independence from Britain and establish a new government to protect their rights. He stated that in order to achieve this goal, the independent states would come together to become the United States of America.

Signing of the Declaration

Jefferson’s bold document was revised in the drafting committee and then presented to the Congress on July 4, 1776. The Congress’s members felt that Jefferson’s case was strong enough that it would convince other nations that America was justified in its rebellion. The thirteen states unanimously approved of the Declaration of Independence, and the United States was born.

Popular pages: The American Revolution (1754–1781)