What is the role of the Declaration of Independence in the American regime? Answering that question involves a closer look at the principles underlying the founding. In this section of Founding.com, some of those questions are asked and answered.
According to the Declaration “all men are created equal.” The idea of equality forms the basis of the governing system in America. According to the founders, every member of the human race enjoys the capacity to think rationally. This capacity, in turn, makes us equal to one another and allows everyone to rule himself through free will. Since we are equal and rational, no one can rule without the consent of the ruled. Thus, the government cannot exist without the consent of the governed. These ideas are discussed in the section titled What is Equality?
In the Declaration, the founders present a reasoned account for the natural basis of the American regime. The essence of the term “nature,” however, is more complex than it may appear. Understanding this term requires a careful consideration of man’s nature and the laws of nature. These ideas are discussed in the section titled What is the Basis for the Declaration of Independence?
The founders believed that government existed by the consent of the people. For them, “the people” was a very inclusive term. American citizens are bound together by the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Thus, all Americans are included in the governing body, not just a select few. These ideas are discussed in the section titled What Makes the Declaration Unique?