The Declaration of Independence
Fall, 2005

Tuesday Mornings, 9:30-11:30 a.m. 


I. Introduction and Overview

    A. Colonization and Development

    B. The British Empire and the British Constitution

    C. "American" Institutions and the British Constitution

II. The Historical and Political Context     

     A. The World in 1776

     B. The Movement toward Independence

III. The Philosophical and Ideological Context

      A. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment

      B. Natural Law Political Theory: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704)

      C. The French Connection

      D. Thomas Paine's Common Sense

IV. The Declaration: Composition and Analysis

      A. The Continental Congress and Independence

      B. Thomas Jefferson and the Committee

      C. The Logic and the Rhetoric of the Declaration

V. Analysis (Continued)

    A. Who is Independent: the People, the States, or the United States?

    B. Pragmatic Revolution and Pragmatic Rebellion

VI. The Impact and Legacy of the Declatation

      A. On the United States

      B. On the World



Historic Documents of the United States (Georgia Tech)

Reading of the Declaration (NPR Staff, July, 2005)

The Declaration of Independence Home Page (Duke University)

Text of the Declaration (also Background and Discussion)

Declaration of Independence (Avalon Project)

Text of the Declaration (with Signers)

The Declaration of Independence (

Declaration of Independence: A History (National Archives)

Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) (National Archives)

Carl L. Becker, The Declaration of Independence: A Study on the History of Political Ideas (1922) (Liberty Fund)

Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

Timeline - Chronology of Events