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American Independence. Virginia. Jamestown was a success and grew into the colony of Virginia, the largest and wealthiest British colony Many of the influences of American democracy came from Virginia The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom , which created a tradition of religious freedom

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  • Jamestown was a success and grew into the colony of Virginia, the largest and wealthiest British colony
  • Many of the influences of American democracy came from Virginia
  • The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which created a tradition of religious freedom

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which became the model for the U.S. Bill of Rights

  • Shortly after Jamestown was settled, another group sought to create an English colony in the New World
  • Calvinist Puritan separatists, sought religious freedom as they disagreed with the Church of England
  • Often referred to as the “Pilgrims”, they sailed to America and founded the Plymouth colony for their faith
  • It was run by direct democracy, set up by the Mayflower Compact
  • Plymouth would eventually grow into the colony of Massachusetts, second in wealth and influence only to Virginia.
  • The tradition of democracy was strong here, based in the beliefs of Puritan church, that all believers were essentially equal in dignity and rights
  • Many of the founders of American Democracy, including John Adams and John Hancock would come from here
the cost of war
The cost of war
  • Although the war gave Britain a wealth of land, it still had spent a lot of money on the war
  • It was decided to get more money from her colonies to pay for the war
  • They thought this fair, as it was the colonists who would be most able to take advantage of the new lands
taxation without representation
Taxation without representation
  • The British colonists in America resented the new taxes, such as the Stamp Actand tea tax
  • Colonists had two major objections
  • First, they were the ones who had fought and defeated the French, and many had died
  • Secondly, they had no representation in Parliament, the British legislature
you can t do that
You can’t do that!
  • Colonists believed that their freedom was tied to property
  • Some colonies required ownership of property in order to vote
  • They believed that if someone could take your property without your consent, this was like slavery
  • Colonists believed Parliament was rolling back their rights as English citizens, as established by the Magna Carta
  • They feared there might be no end to the rights they would lose, as the right to property was tied to all other rights they had
property freedom
Property = Freedom
  • Most colonies required people to own property before they can vote
  • You had to own either 50 acres of land or the equivalent of $100 of other property
  • Only Georgia and Delaware didn’t require land ownership but they did require you to have paid taxes
george mason
George Mason
  • How do you have “all men are created equal” when you own slaves
  • On the floor of the House of Burgesses, George Mason explained that, All men are free and independent and have certain inherent rights, but this could not be applied to slaves because they owned no property ; that they were in fact, themselves property.(from Jefferson’s Pillow by Roger Wilkins , Beacon Press 2001, 30)
patrick henry from give me liberty speech march 23 1775 in the virginia house of burgesses
Patrick Henryfrom “Give me Liberty Speech” March 23, 1775 in the Virginia House of Burgesses

“The question before the House is an awful moment to this country… I consider it nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery… Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

  • To Henry, his right to property is worth dying for
from virginia declaration of rights by george mason 1776
from “Virginia Declaration of Rights” by George Mason (1776)

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent… and when they enter into society they cannot by any compact deprive… namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property…”

if you can t agree fight
If you can’t agree, fight!
  • The American colonists disagreements with Great Britain over taxation and their rights as citizens continued through the 1760s and 1770s
  • In 1775, those disagreements turned to armed conflict, starting with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, near Boston
  • This would, of course, become the American Revolution
what are we fighting for
What are we fighting for?
  • The 2nd Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to decide what all the colonies would do about this crisis
  • After much debate, it was decided to officially declare independence from Britain and make clear why they are separating
  • Thomas Jeffersonwas chosen to head the committee that would write the Declaration of Independence
why independence
Why Independence?
  • The Declaration starts with a bold statement, rejecting the divine right of Kings to rule
  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creatorwith certain unalienableRights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
  • It declares that people have “natural rights”, that are given by God, and cannot be taken away by government, even a King
natural rights
Natural Rights
  • Jefferson was influenced heavily by British political philosopher John Locke in his ideas of “natural rights”
  • Locke wrote, “To understand Political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider what state of nature all men are naturally in… a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their professions as they think fit… without asking leave or depending on the will of any other man.”
a surprising rough draft
A surprising rough draft
  • “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither…”
  • Jefferson is blaming the King (and previous kings) for slavery.
  • “Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold,This…is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain…he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.
  • Jefferson is not only blaming the British system for the past, but for the present as well. He claims that it is the British government that has prevented the slave trade from ending and continues to force it upon her colonies. He is calling the King a hypocrite by emphasizing his connection to the Church of England, by referring to him as “Christian”
john adams
John Adams
  • John Adams of Massachusetts was part of the committee in charge of writing the Declaration and was very much against slavery.

“I was delighted with its high tone and flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly would never oppose…”(Adams writing from 1776, taken from John Adams by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster; 2001, p.121)

now it s personal
Now, it’s personal!
  • The Declaration goes on to declare that King George III has violated these natural rights
  • “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and …establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
  • Jefferson then supports this bold statement with a list of 31 charges against the King and Great Britain, crimes committed against the American colonies
complaints complaints complaints
complaints, complaints, complaints!!!
  • “He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.”
  • “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.”
  • “For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States”
complaints complaints complaints1
complaints, complaints, complaints!!!
  • “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world”
  • “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent”
  • “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury”
  • “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”
we had no choice
We had no choice!
  • The Declaration then goes on:
  • “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
  • Jefferson is saying we didn’t want to go this far, but since the King won’t give us what we are entitled to, he doesn't deserve to rule us anymore
independence at last
Independence at last!
  • Next, Jefferson officially declares the founding of the United States:
  • “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world …do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are…Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved
great but still human
Great, but still human
  • The ideas of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration have lived for over 237 years
  • The ideals of freedom and equality have never been expressed better
  • It took quite some time for those ideals to become reality; and there is still work to do
  • The founders didn’t finish the job of creating freedom with the Declaration, they began it; It is our job to finish it