The Declaration Of Independence…What Does It Mean?


We came across a modern-language version of the Declaration of Independence, anonymously posted on a Web site. We made a few changes, and are publishing this simplified version in the hopes it will help a new generation grasp the meaning of what we celebrate today.

Actual phrases of the Declaration of Independence are in bold and enclosed in quotes, with the modern translation in a normal font.

Thomas Jefferson  (1757--1826)

Thomas Jefferson (1743--1826)

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another …”

Whenever a group of people needs to separate themselves from their government …

“… and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them …”

… and assert their universal and God-given independence and equality…

“… a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

It’s important to clearly state the reasons why.

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

We think it’s obvious…

“… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights …”

…that God created every person equal, and He gave each person specific unchanging rights that should never be trampled upon…

“… that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness …”

these include the right of the people to live life in freedom without undue harm, and pursue their dreams and goals.

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”

The very reason we have man-made governments is to protect these rights, not to interfere with them. Furthermore, whatever power and authority governments have are given by the people’s permission and limited to their protection.

“…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it …”

When any government starts to undermine the very purpose of protecting the life, freedoms, and happiness of the people, then they have the right to change the government or even to pull the plug on the government if things get too bad.

“…and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The people have the right to set up a new and better government based and organized upon tried and true principles that protect, rather than threaten, their safety and happiness.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;”

It’s not wise to change a long-standing government for some trivial or fleeting reason or for the latest political fad;

“and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

And, in fact, history shows that people are more likely to put up with unbearable evil–they even get used to it!, than they are to correct the problem. In other words: Put a frog in hot water and he’ll jump out. But put him in cool water and gradually turn up the heat, and he’ll boil to death.

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

But when a government becomes tyrannical and abusive with consistent, repeated violations of the people’s rights, with the intent to make them slaves of the state, then the people have the right — in fact, the duty — to revolt and put new safeguards in place to protect their future rights.



18 responses to “The Declaration Of Independence…What Does It Mean?

  1. This is a very good explanation and very helpful…is there more? because i need help on the grievances

  2. A summary for the grievances would be excellent.
    Thanks for what you have provided and I’ll check back.

  3. thannks man, our teacher told us to translate the preamble of D O I, too crazy, but u done it for me, thanks man

  4. This helped me out sooooo much!!! Thanks!

  5. this was a great resource, my teacher wanted us to summarize each part and it was way to confusing. thanks for the help!

  6. that little traslation really helped me out since i had homework on it… thanks for the help!

  7. This trully helped. Thanks!

  8. I have an assignment to do at school about cultural artifacts and I chose to do the DOI. As I started reading it I realized I never really knew what it said because I have no idea what it is saying. So far this is the best site to help clarify it’s meaning. Thank you!!

  9. this is really helpful, i didn’t fully understand the meaning of the declaration of independence but after reading this i can understand it perfectly well! Thanks so much!!

  10. You really helped me with my homework!!!! Anything else you’ve got would be great.

  11. this was seriously helpful

  12. thanks that 240 year old english got my tongue twisted and my mind lost=)

  13. This is the best thing ever. I had to analyze and compare the declaration of independence to important thinkers during the age of enlightenment. Unfortunately, the old ass english really confused me and this helped so much!!!!

  14. Thanks this was amazing. I had to annotate this and i had no freakinggg idea on what to do😟 thanks a lot. Please post the rest of this tho

  15. Sometimes I think that I would have an easier time making friends and influencing others if I decide pull a few of TJ’s phrases out of my proverbial bag of tricks every once in a while. For instance, “Dear boss: it’s not only ‘Important’ that I receive this raise, it’s ‘A decent respect to the opinions of mankind!'” On second thought, I don’t think head-honcho Kathy would find the ‘mankind’ part very amusing..

  16. Thank you for the explanation, elped me a lot in understanding the concept and meaning of the declaration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s