Talk:United States Declaration of Independence

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Good article United States Declaration of Independence has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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August 12, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
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Additional External Link[edit]

I would like to add an external link to the version of this declaration before it was edited, as originally written by Thomas Jefferson. An example of this can be found at — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 11:31, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 25 September 2014[edit]

Please change

"Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document,[2] which congress would edit to produce the final version."


"Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document,[2] which Congress would edit to produce the final version."

"Congress" should be capitalized here. (talk) 06:10, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Thanks for the eye Cannolis (talk) 06:44, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

The Influence of Political Philosophy on Drafting Language[edit]

So I was fact checking the John Adams HBO special (because I am just weird like that) and came across this article and I was wondering if we could devote a few sentences and provide links to the thinkers that provided our forefathers with the language and concepts they codified in our nation's document. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is clearly John Locke's adapted life, liberty, and property. In the introduction of the article the last reference is used as evidence that our DoI had tremendous political and cultural significance for the century to come across the globe- yet no mention that these ideas were not originally our own. I do not wish to take away from the event or achievement, nor slight the great men who were responsible. I would just like people to know where these men drew their influence from, so a few links to John Locke or John Stuart Mill while discussing the influence of the document itself seems appropriate.

Benjamin (talk) 12:45, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Declaration of Independence was not forgotten[edit]

I must challenge the assertion that the Declaration of independence was as quoted by Maier on page 162 ( American Scripture) cite in your article. Maier stated "seldom if ever, to judge from newspaper accounts and histories of the celebrations was the Declaration of independence ever read publicly in the late 1770s and 1780s." There is no evidence offered to support this and in fact the DOI was read on July 4th from 1776 onward and usually read also before sermons delivered in gathering places after 1776.

I would also point out that many newspapers were shut down by the British in the colonies during the war years war years of 1775-1783 and could not be reported. Oftentimes, the reports of sermons were sent to newspapers in many states to be included as a news event but nothing in the newspaper reporting standard of 18th century equal today's newspaper reporting practices.

No facts are offered to support such a sweeping judgment and really needs to be reviewed. Unfortunately, the belief that the DOI was forgotten has been included in other histories of the time and needs to be corrected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Novanglus2015 (talkcontribs) 10:41, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Misleading statement in text[edit]

The statement "All Northern states abolished slavery by 1804." is misleading by incompleteness, as "abolition" left many slaves in slavery. (Tell that to the thousands of slaves who weren't freed by these laws).

In it is stated correctly that "The last 16 slaves in New Jersey were freed in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment." But a less well-informed reader (and we should always think of such readers) would think that impossible.

Suggested as a less misleading explication: "All Northern states abolished slavery by 1804. However, despite most Northern states having few slaves, abolition was almost always gradual. Only decades after 1804, and in New Jersey not until 1865, were the last slaves in the North freed."

BaliTiger (talk) 01:34, 4 July 2015 (UTC)BaliTiger, 01:30, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Slavery was in fact not legal there--the people in question were NOT slaves and slave laws did not apply to them. They had a different status--for example they could not be bought or sold. Keep in mind that this was the positions advocated by the abolitionists, so let's not ridicule them for failure. Rjensen (talk) 06:44, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

Hi Rjensen - thanks for your reply. Please clarify:

1) Which people ("in question") were not slaves?

2) Can slavery not exist in more than one form? One definition of a slave could be "someone who can be owned as property, and who must by law work for no compensation beyond subsistence, with the margin accruing to the owner." You are correct that in the North it was immediately outlawed to sell such people under the gradual abolition laws, but in my view, that feature alone doesn't constitute liberation of those people or abolition of their slave status. They just became slaves who couldn't be trafficked, a weak improvement.

3) Can you clarify where in my comment I ridicule anyone, including abolitionists, or label their efforts a failure?

I am simply imagining a slave in New Jersey, who hears of this great abolition in 1804, and who consequently asks to be paid a wage for his work, or to move or change his place of employment, only to be told no, that those things won't ever be possible for him, but he should still understand that slavery is abolished. Might such a person find that argument puzzlingly thin or self-contradictory?

4) Please note that I supported my statement with reference to another Wikipedia article. The two articles are inconsistent with each other. Do you propose that there were no slaves in New Jersey after 1804? Can you support your own claim, without adding features to my argument (like "ridicule") that my argument does not contain? If slaves exist in a place with legal protection for their slave status, can we say that a place has abolished slavery? If you are correct, should we edit the other article?

BaliTiger (talk) 09:34, 9 July 2015 (UTC)BaliTiger

Date of USA[edit]

Re the recent back and forth on my change.

Historian Joseph Ellis has argued in his 2015 book The Quartet that Lincoln's Gettysburg address is simply mistaken, though It is a bit ambiguous IMO.

There was indeed by 1776 a (second) Continental Congress which after creating the Declaration of Independence in turn formed a Continental Army which fought against Britain until 1783. The third continental Congress convened from March 1, 1781, to March 4, 1789 running under the Articles of Confederation which were adopted in 1778. But the Declaration of Independence refers to "the thirteen United States of America" and "these colonies".

The concluding paragraph of the Declaration refers to "the united States" and then says "That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, and finally "and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do."

In 1776, the United States was a confederation, but it is not clear that at this point it was a single nation. Rather this could arguably be dated to the adoption of the Articles of Confederation.

An interesting review of Ellis' book in the New York Times is here. [1] --WickerGuy (talk) 03:20, 25 August 2015 (UTC)

Ellis has some peculiar views--but he hedges and qualifies: He writes "no such thing as a coherent American nation." So who says it had to be coherent? Let's see if Ellis's view becomes an accepted interpretation or is just a one person thing. Of course few if any nations has a written constitution in 1770s, so it's hard to see why the USA had to have one to be a nation. Ellis does not explain. There was a national army and a national Congress, and one (not 13) peace treaty. Other historians: 1) Richard Alan Ryerson - 2012 " Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776-1809:; 2) Eva Sheppard Wolf, Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner's Rebellion (2006); 3) MAK Clements, NF Ellerton (2015): "With these words, on July 4, 1776, the former colonies became a new nation."; 4) Saillant "Evangelicalism and the Politics of Reform in Northern Black Thought, 1776-1863" 2012 "led African Americans to mingle biblical religion and natural rights theory, to hold the new nation to an antislavery standard 5) MM Edling (2013) Continental Congress was a " government that could represent the American nation in the world." 6) Making America: A History of the United States, Volume 1 By Carol Berkin et al. (7th ed 2015) ch 6 = "Independence and a new nation, 1775-1783"; Rjensen (talk) 07:37, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
If one or more authoritative sources argue that the United States did not begin as a "nation" with the Declaration of Independence, then that scholarly dispute could be included in the article. For a WP editor to make that claim without sources, however, seems like original research. WCCasey (talk) 05:08, 28 August 2015 (UTC)