The “Declaration of Rights and Grievances”, and the “Declaration of Independence” are two important pronouncements that heightened the American Revolution. These pronouncements also steered the US colony to its eventual independence from the British Empire. Not only did the declarations have a huge impact on the American Revolution alone, but they also, fifteen years later, instigated the first wave of the French Revolution of 1787–1799.
In this essay, our focus is directed toward the Declaration of Rights and Grievances Vs the Declaration of Independence. Our primary objective, in this paper, is to answer this question: what comparison does the Declaration of Rights and Grievances have with the Declaration of Independence? We shall be examining each of these declarations individually with the aim to understand how both were a major push to the later independence of the American colony from the British rule in 1776.
The Declaration of Rights and Grievances
Our first focus is on the Declaration of Rights and Grievances which was issued as a response to the Stamp Act, Townsend Acts, the Tea Act, and finally the Coercive Acts of the Great Britain Parliament. These acts were used to impose heavy taxes and constraints on the people of America under false pretences (Namier, 1962).
The Stamp Act of 1765, for example, was used to impose levies on printed materials. The Act directed that every print material was to be produced using a revenue stamp embossed paper produced in London. This according to the act was to raise funds for the payment of the British military troops stationed in all the colonies after the French and Indian War of 1754—1763.
The Tea Act (1773), on the other hand, imposed heavy taxes on the delivery and distribution of tea within America with the primary aim of assisting the commercially struggling East India Company, a crucial contributor to the economy of Great Britain at that time.
The Stamp Act Congress, which is also known, formally, as the First Congress of the American Colonies, had drafted the declaration, on the 14th of October, 1774, to specifically address fourteen points—as a protest against the exploitative laws and regulations of the colonial authority in America. In the declaration, the Stamp Act Congress petitioned King George III, the then King of England, to address their grievances and accord them the same rights as the residents of Britain. They also certified the colonial assemblies as the only bodies with the right to levy taxes on the colonies (this beget the “no taxation without representation” rule) and also asserted that Americans were entitled to the right of trial by jury.
In essence, the Declaration of Rights and Grievances was a great achievement in crumbling the colonial power of the British Empire at that time. It was in it that the right to “life, liberty and property” (which are the most common American expression of Natural Law), was first articulated (Rakove, 1979). The pronouncement can also be viewed as a direct challenge to the authority of the British system, in which the same rights accorded to British citizens in Britain were sharply demanded in writing (Namier, 1962).
Declaration of Independence
Two years after the Declaration of Rights and Grievances at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Second Continental Congress meeting took place, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted.
The Second Continental Congress meeting involved representatives from the thirteen American colonies, which had formed a joint force in the fight for American independence. On the 4th of July, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies came together to declare themselves sovereign states free of British rule. In addition, they also took formative steps to establish what we now know as the United States of America. This declaration, according to History.com, was “the first formal statement by the nation’s people [that is, American people] asserting their right to choose their own government.”
The Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, a popular voice of the American Revolution and also the third president of the United States, even though the people did not know this until the 1790s (Boyd, 1976). The pronouncement defended the independence of the American Colony by listing 27 grievances of the colonies against the English King, King George III—in connection with those presented in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances released earlier (Lucas, 1989). In addition, the Declaration also asserted the natural and legal rights of the American people.
It was on July 4, 1776, that the Second Conventional Congress meeting (which involved thirteen delegates from the Thirteen American colonies) that the Jefferson drafted Declaration was introduced, revised and signed by the delegates from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts Bay. It was also on this day that Congress voted for the independence of the American Colony.
This Declaration had a significant influence on the American Revolution and independence as well as the resultant formation of the United States of America. It also had a huge influence on other regions outside America, like France. This Declaration can, in conjunction, with other documents, be regarded as the most important foundational document of the United States of America.
In this article, our primary focus was the comparison of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances and the Declaration of Independence. We have been able to successfully examine these two important documents in the founding history of the United States of America and what their influence has been majorly in America, and other regions of the world alike.