Influence of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the Formation of Modern America

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The Declaration of Independence was written because people were escaping King George the Third, who was a tyrant and oppressed his people in Great Britain. The people escaped to what is now America. Later, the DOI was created on July 4, 1776. The hope of these founders was to create a better nation with values and ideals to improve government as opposed to King George’s ruling. The DOI lists all the bad things the tyrant has committed which hurt domestic issues, such as oppressing and enslaving people, and made wars just because he felt like it. The United States Constitution was later signed on September 17, 1787 and further improved the DOI. The amendments of the Constitution promised the country to fix domestic issues and foreign policy for the welfare of the country. Our founders paved the way to a better society with freedom and justice for all. But things did not go the way our founders expected it.

Domestic issues that people suffered in the times before the DOI was really a form of extreme oppression. People could not vote because the king made them give up their right of representation in the legislature (DOI, Bullet 3). The Constitution also promised everybody the right to be represented (Article I, Section 4, Clause 1). This worked for white people, but not for black people who were slaves in 1788. African Americans did not get to be represented or vote until 1870 and this was after the Civil War, April 12, 1861 which they participated in and gave up their lives for this country. It was a long struggle for them to get the right to vote. Also, Ron Grossman says in his article, ‘Illinois Women Win the Right to Vote’, that women in Illinois could not take part in the voting process until June 26, 1913, which was a big victory for women, and this was the start for women to vote in other states.

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Slavery was another domestic issue that the DOI and Constitution both tried to improve or get rid of for the welfare of the people. In the DOI, the king would capture people out at sea, even those born in the kingdom, and make them slaves to fight and kill in wars for him (DOI, Bullet 26). The Constitution talks about ‘free persons’ meaning freedom from tyranny and King George the Third, but these free people were white men (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3). Slavery was an issue that people in King George’s times suffered from and also after the constitution which allowed slavery to be legal. Slavery was normal starting from 1788, but later Abraham Lincoln enacted the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery in this country in 1865 (Concise Summary, para 1). The Constitution was then improved but there was still slavery in the south that black people still were suffering from, which was a new oppression, just as horrific as slavery, called racism. This happened after the emancipation proclamation was passed. According to Ronald E. Butchart in his article, ‘Black Hope’, white people intimidated blacks to prevent them from getting an education in order to take control of their minds. This was due to white supremacy and they did not want blacks to be better than they were. Blacks wanted an education but instead got their schools burnt, suffered violence, got shot and/or lynched, and both students and teachers were targeted (Butchart, para 1). This racism was horrible when the Ku Klux Klan was founded during the reconstruction era. Later in the Civil Rights movement in 1964, the horrible violence was over, especially the lynching, but there was still racism in the ‘Long Sixties’, blacks were still oppressed. Malcom X says in his article, ‘The Ballot or the Bullet’ that they suffered “economic exploitation, social degradation, and political oppression” (para 3). This was a time when black people marched, protested in the streets, and physically fought to get equal rights. This oppression is something that I believe the DOI intended to abolish for the good of the people, especially the Constitution when it guaranteed people their rights to freedom.

The DOI, as well as the Constitution, say that war and foreign policy should be planned and necessary. The DOI says that the king would bring “large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death” (Bullet, 25) and “declaring war against us”, meaning its people (Bullet ,23). All the oppressed citizens wanted was freedom from the cruel tyrant. The Constitution says in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, that we can: “declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”. This of course, was to be a legislative power to be “vested in a congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” (Constitution, Article I, Section 1). I believe that what our founders were aiming for was to protect ourselves from foreign attacks. Again, our leaders have gotten into wars, such as World War I and Vietnam, not considering the Constitution and its meaning. For example, Kendrick Clements says in his article ‘Woodrow Wilson and World War I’ that in this war, President Wilson spoke of the neutrality policy, where we would not get into war, when others fought like Germany torpedoing British merchant ships. But with the ‘strict accountability’ letter sent by the U.S. it was viewed as a threat by the Germans (Kendrick, para 29). The Germans were just unhappy that trade was not fair, and they were excluded. After the Germans again torpedoed the Lusitania, President Wilson acted by going into war with Germany, a decision he made without seeking advice and citing that Germany violated the strict accountability warning (Kendrick, para 58). All along, Germany was reacting to the British merchant ships who were arming themselves looking more like military ships and gave Germany a reason to feel threatened by them. Better trade relations with Germany and the president seeking better advice I think would have avoided this war.

Another example was the Vietnam War which we entered in 1965. We entered this war because of the ‘containment policy’ and ‘Americanization’ which was to stop the spread of communism, an ideal or belief that did not really threaten us, like a military strike against us would. Also, according to Fredrick Logevall’s article ‘Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam’, it was President Johnson and bad mistakes that ultimately got us involved in this war. Vietnam wanted to enter into talks to avoid war, but Johnson ignored it. Johnson was just elected president and he wanted to keep his promise, to look good, to protect against communism. Johnson rejected the plea of several advisors, as George C. Herring put it, “he waged war in ‘cold blood’” (Logevall, para 26). Congress was against it but just went along with the president. In other words, the president acted like a tyrant, like King George the Third.

In conclusion, these two important documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, have shaped this country to what it is today. It took us a long time to stop racism, but thanks to the bill of rights, it is not happening as bad as then. The wars we have been involved in were caused by individuals who acted putting their own beliefs before fully understanding the consequences. I think that we are a better nation now and we are still learning from our history; I really hope so for the sake of our future.

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Influence of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the Formation of Modern America. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Influence of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the Formation of Modern America.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
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