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The Declaration of Independence Was Also a List of Grievances

For many Americans, the entirety of the Declaration of Independence can be summed up by Thomas Jefferson’s stirring preamble: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But in fact, the main purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to present a compelling case that King George III and the British Parliament had broken their own laws, leaving the American colonists no choice but to cut ties and “throw off” British rule. To accomplish that, Jefferson and the Continental Congress compiled a laundry list of grievances—27 in total—meant to prove to the world that King George was a “tyrant” and a lawbreaker.

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