The Declaration of Independence

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson and the Committee of Five. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, forms of appeal, circumstances, and intention.

Presentation of the text

Title: The Declaration of Independence
Writer: Thomas Jefferson and the Committee of Five
Genre: Legal document
Publication date: 4th of July, 1776
Context: the American Revolution

The Committee of Five was a team of five men appointed by the Second Continental Congress, an assembly of political representatives from thirteen American colonies which formed during the American Revolutionary War, to write the US Declaration of Independence. The team was formed by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingstone. However, the original draft of the statement was written by Thomas Jefferson alone. The final version of the document is thought to have been edited by the rest of the group, but there are a lot of uncertainties around this fact. Presently, Jefferson is acknowledged as the main author of the text.


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Tricolon refers to mentioning things in threes to make them easier to remember and have a greater impact on the readers. One example is “…that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”, which later became an internationally recognized phrase describing human rights.

To emphasize that the King’s policies make it complicated for legislative bodies to meet, the writer mentions that they are summoned “at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant”.

To make the war actions the British took against American colonies sound illegitimate, the writers describe them as “the works of death, desolation and tyranny”.

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The Declaration of Independence

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