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Declaration of Independence in America

. . for should a bad government be instituted for us in future it had been as well to have accepted at first the bad one offered to us." In the weeks after its publication, Declaration signatory Benjamin Franklin replies to one Lord Howe that an idea of royal pardon for the colonies presumes the colonies have done something wrong is evidence of the failure of the British government to take its American colonial citizens seriously in any way:

Directing pardons to be offered the colonies, who are the very parties injured, expresses indeed that opinion of our ignorance, baseness, and insensibility, which your uninformed and proud nation has long been pleased to entertain of us; but it can have no other effect than that of increasing our resentment.

Franklin goes on to say that submitting to a government that has "with the most wanton barbarity and cruelty burnt our defenceless towns" would be to submit to "the severest tyranny." In other words, the project of revolution, to which the Declaration speaks, has as its principal intent to have the British empire acknowledge the citizenship and humanity of the colonists. Though it was by no means certain that the Americans would prevail, Franklin predicts that "dispassionate posterity will condemn to infamy those who advised [war against America]; and that even success will not save from some degree of dishonor those, who voluntarily engaged to conduct it."

The Declaration itself emerged in the context of rapidly unfolding events. It is dated some six months after publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the well-known pamphlet of revolutionary propaganda that itself had appeared eight months after the armed conflict between British troops and American farmers at Concord and Lexington. The war that eventually guaranteed the new nation unchallenged territorial sovereignty emerged in no small measure from a rhetorical politics that rationalized, or more exactly realized in the sense ...

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Declaration of Independence in America. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:40, August 18, 2017, from
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