Introduction to the prompt:
The Declaration of Independence (1776) has come to serve as a cornerstone of American Political thought and of American political history. Many, including prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, John C. Calhoun, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Woodrow Wilson, etc., have come to either uphold or denounce the document and the principles it espouses—“all men are created equal,” “Life Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” etc.—to further their own political agendas in their respective historical contexts. Throughout American history, the document and its principles have been used to support arguably immoral aims as well as moral ones; it has been outright dismissed, cited as hypocritical, highly praised, and fervently upheld by many Americans from all backgrounds for various reasons.
The prompt you will be answering (answer all of the questions provided):
Should the Declaration of Independence (1776) still be influential in American political discourse today? Are the principles outdated? Are they timeless? What role, if any, should they have in American politics today?
As you formulate your arguments, consider why the Founders voted to approve the document drafted by Jefferson. Why did they include it and present it as being timeless? Also consider why others, examples listed above, chose to dismiss or uphold it. Finally, consider the diverse groups within American politics, based on ideology, religion, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, etc., and what the principles in the Declaration should/do mean to them, if anything.
Requirements for this short essay:
Your paper must be: 2-3 pages, 12pt. Times New Roman font, double spaced, Word Document or PDF format only, with a Bibliography/Works Cited. You can use any citation style you like, e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. but it must be consistently used throughout your paper. If you are unsure of how to use citations or styles, please email me or drop by office hours.
You must use at least three outside sources, such as news articles, books, journal articles, op-eds, class discussions, etc. in your paper along with the Declaration of Independence itself.
For your essay include an introductory paragraph in which you introduce the topic, articulate the question you are answering, and conclude it with your thesis statement. Following your introductory paragraph will be your body paragraphs, which articulate your arguments and possible counterarguments, and your conclusion, which summarizes your question and arguments, and may include other possible smaller considerations and questions that way on your arguments. Finally, include a bibliography, or works cited, citing the sources you use. (This will be the Declaration of Independence and the three outside sources you choose).
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