We are examining our founding document – an amazing piece of text that brought us to where we are today, and inspired other nations to declare those own free and independent states.

The original Declaration of Independence, ink on parchment. It has been damaged by light and improper storage, and the text has almost faded completely over the past 241 years.

A facsimile copy of The Declaration of Independence, struck in the 19th century. Copies, posters and prints of the document are made from this copy, not the original.

 

Click here to view the real Declaration of Independence at the National Archive.

As we read, analyze and discuss this document please remember that we are looking at not only its importance historically but also its use of effective syntax, its appeals to rhetoric, and even the flaws of 18th century bias that it includes. Many of the ideals exposed in our founding document are held dear to us, but know the irony in that these ideals as we see them today were not extended to all people living in the new United States.

Please see the videos below over the history of the document and a performance of the Declaration.

Today we also learned how to take DoodleNotes, using The Declaration as an example. Please click here to access the notes.

As we analyze the text, remember to look for the appeals to rhetoric and be able to explain how the syntax of the document make its more effective. Be sure to read The National Archive’s analysis of The Declaration of Independence to inform your own analysis and understanding of the text:

“The text of the Declaration can be divided into five sections–the introduction, the preamble, the indictment of George III, the denunciation of the British people, and the conclusion. Because space does not permit us to explicate each section in full detail, we shall select features from each that illustrate the stylistic artistry of the Declaration as a whole.3