- What Makes the Declaration Unique?
- What Is Equality?
- What is the Basis for the Theory of the Declaration?
This line introduces a recitation of certain acts of Parliament regarded as unconstitutional exercises of authority by the Americans. "He has combined with others" means that King George has given his assent to these acts of "pretended Legislation," that is, he has refused to exercise his veto on them. The "others" referred to here are the members of Parliament. This entire section rests upon a principal issue for the colonists: To what extent did the British Parliament have the authority to legislate for the American colonists? As one reads these charges, one should keep in mind the principle stated at the beginning of the Declaration, that all legitimate political power derives from the consent of the governed. This principle is implicit in the phrase "foreign to our Constitution." Jefferson refers to the American understanding of the British constitution (see his Summary View), which rests upon the principle of consent. "Our constitution," in this view, rightfully grants authority to the colonial legislatures to make laws for their respective colonies. The Founders believed that the colonists in each of the colonies had voluntarily consented to be governed by their own elected representatives; The colonies acknowledged King George as their "chief executive," and were in this sense British citizens. However, the colonists had not consented to be governed by the British Parliament, and it therefore had no authority over them. Accordingly, when King George gave his consent to the acts of "pretended Legislation" of Parliament, he had given the colonists the justification for dissolving their allegiance to him, and thus for declaring their independence.