The Lessons are broken into an Introduction and five major study areas.
The Declaration contains a long list of grievances against British rule of the colonies. To understand the events that led to these grievances, you will learn about colonial understanding of mercantilism and the British desire to raise revenues following the French and Indian War.
"Taxation without Representation," the Colonists cried. In this section, you'll learn about the various taxes, or duties, the British imposed, and Colonial reactions, including the Boston Tea Party. This section concludes with the gathering of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, in 1774.
Jefferson mixed old and new ideas together into a statement of the beliefs of a new country. The grand ideas expressed in the Declaration draw from the philosophers and thinkers in England and France, but also include ideas stretching back to the Roman republic.
Two of the key ideals of the new, independent country were individual liberty and tolerance. Those principals reflect the role that religion played in the founding of the nation. But not all of America’s people had the right to those freedoms. Learn about how religious evolution helped to form the American mind and how the Founders struggled with the great problem of equality.
To fully appreciate this revolutionary document, we will look at it one section at a time, from the grand statement of purpose through the long list of specific grievances that drove the Founders to declare their independence.