The Declaration of Independence

ryanGovernment(ML), Mini Lessons

Common Sense Government: The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration is, without question, one of the most important documents to emerge from the 18th century, and probably the whole of human history. The principles espoused within the Declaration have been used by virtually every revolutionary movement which has appeared on the world stage since. Consider that the French Revolution, the American civil rights movement, and 20th century feminism all rely, either explicitly or implicitly, on the Declaration for their moral authority. Even Ho Chi Minh took the Declaration of Independence as a template for the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence in 1945.

The decision to declare independence could not have been an easy one. In this clip from the movie version of 1776, John Adams pushes Congress to take action. While he didn’t actually speak these words (they were written by the author of the musical screenplay, Peter Stone), the capture the moment well:

  1. Imagine you are a revolutionary in 1776. What grievances today might rise to the level of bringing about a revolution?
  2. Would you risk your life, fortune, and sacred honor for them?

Trivia: What American currency has a version of this scene on its back?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers.  Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.

Image Citation:

21st, August 2018, John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence (1817–1826) [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>.