Declaration of Independence. In early 1776, American public opinion was deeply divided over the issue of declaring independence from Britain. A discernible drift toward independence was occurring, but the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and news of King George III’s decision to hire foreign mercenary soldiers to fight in America radicalized the views of many.
The Declaration of Independence is one of our nation's most important founding documents, expressing the basic purposes of self-government, limited constitutionalism, and what it means to be an American.
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The purpose of the Declaration, he said, had simply been to justify the independence of the United States, and not to proclaim the equality of any "inferior or degraded race". Lincoln, however, thought that the language of the Declaration was deliberately universal, setting a high moral standard for which the American republic should aspire.