Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was a document issued by the Second Continental Congress on July 6, 1775, to explain why the Thirteen Colonies had taken up arms in what had become the American Revolutionary War. The final draft of the Declaration was written by John Dickinson, who incorporated language from an earlier draft by Thomas Jefferson.[1]

Content

The Declaration describes what colonists viewed as the unconstitutional effort of the British Parliament to extend its jurisdiction into the colonies following the Seven Years' War. Objectionable policies listed in the Declaration include taxation without representation, extended use of vice admiralty courts, the several Coercive Acts, and the Declaratory Act. The Declaration describes how the colonists had, for ten years, repeatedly petitioned for the redress of their grievances, only to have their pleas ignored or rejected by the British government. Even though British troops have been sent to enforce these unconstitutional acts, the Declaration insists that the colonists do not yet seek independence from the mother country. They have taken up arms "in defence of the Freedom that is our Birthright and which we ever enjoyed until the late Violation of it", and will "lay them down when Hostilities shall cease on the part of the Aggressors". The very first sentence of the declaration includes a condemnation of slavery.[2]

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