power and the declaration ofindependence essay research

Power And The Declaration Ofindependence Essay, Research Paper

Power and The Declaration ofIndependence There are many abstractions in the Declaration ofIndependence. These abstractions such as: rights, freedom, autonomy and felicity have become the foundations of Americansociety and have helped to determine the “ AmericanIdentity. ” Power, another abstraction that reoccurs inall the major parts of the Declaration of Independence playsan every bit of import function in determining “ Americaidentity. ” One forgets the abstraction of power, becauseit appears in relation to other establishments: thelegislature, the King, the Earth, and the military. Theabstraction of power sets the tone of the Declaration, andshapes the settlers construct of authorities and society.Power in the Declaration of Independence flows from distinctbodies within society such as the King, the legislative assembly, themilitary, and the settlers. The Oxford English Dictionary defines power as, “ theability to make or consequence something or anything, or to move upona individual or thing ” ( OED 2536 ) . Throughout the agesaccording to the dictionary the word power has connotedsimilar significances. In 1470 the word power meant to havestrength and the ability to make something, “ With allthair strang *poweir ” ( OED 2536 ) About three hundredyears subsequently in 1785 the word power carried the same meaningof control, strength, and force, “ power to bring forth aneffect, supposes power non to bring forth it ; otherwise it is notpower but necessity ” ( OED 2536 ) . This definitionexplains how the power authorities or societal institutionsrests in their ability to command people, stones, settlements todo something they otherwise would non make. To do the peoplepay revenue enhancements. To do the stones form into a fencing. To do thecolonists honour the King. The colonialists adopt thisinterpretation of power. They see power as a barbarous force thathas wedded them to a King who has “ a history of repeatedinjuries and usurptions. ” The framers of the Declarationof Independence besides believe powers given by God to thepeople must non be usurped. The struggle between thesespheres of power the settlers believe, justifies theirrebellion. The utilizations of the word power set the tone of theDeclaration of Independence. In the first sentence of theDeclaration settlers condemn the King ’ s misdemeanor of powersgiven by God to all work forces. When in the Course of human events it becomes necessaryfor one people to fade out the political sets which haveconnected them with another, and to presume among the powersof the Earth, the separate and equal station to which theLaws of Nature and of natures God Entitle them ( Wills 375 ) . In this transition the authors of the Declaration ofIndependence are explicating their moral claim to arise. Thisright finds its foundation on their reading of theabstraction of power. Settlers perceive power as bifurcated, a force the King uses to suppress them, and a force given tothem by God leting them to arise. In the Declaration ofIndependence the settlers besides write approximately power as anegative force. In the undermentioned quotation mark power takes on anegative significance because power remainders in the custodies of the Kingand non the people, “ to do others to be elected ; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned ” ( Wills 376 ) . Power when mentioned inassociation with the power of the people to do their ownlaws has a positive intension, “ He has affected torender the Military independent of and superior to Civilpower ” ( Wills 377 ) . These two different utilizations of the word power transform themeaning and tone of the Declaration of Independence. Themeaning alterations from merely a Declaration of independency fromBritain because of assorted misdemeanors of revenue enhancement Torahs, militaryexpenditures, and colonists ’ rights ; to a fundamentaldisagreement about power. Whether the King or civilauthorities have a right to power. The settlers believe inthe decentalisation of power. The Britis

h support acentralized monarchy. The settlers believe power should flowup from the people to the swayers. The British believe powershould flow down from the King to the topics.

The two different utilizations of the universe power besides change thetone of the papers. The settler ’ s definition of power ascoercive in the custodies of the King and good in the custodies ofcivil governments identifies the King as the enemy. He takeson the function of the enemy because he clutches the power inpre-colonial society. The tone of the Declaration ofIndependence becomes more terrible ; the Declarations vilifyingof the cardinal power instabilities between the settlements andthe King make the interruption between the two unbridgeable. Thebreak between the settlements and the King became non merely a taxor policy difference any longer, but a cardinal philosophicaldifference. The settlers significance of the word power alterations dependingon who possesses the power. In the custodies of the King powercorrupts in the custodies of the settlers and the people ittakes on Godhead qualities. The settler ’ s analysis of who haspower fascinates. The settlers believe power to be a forcethat emanates from fixed points in society. In contrast moremodern minds such as Nietzche and Foucault believe powerflows throughout all of society ( Miller 15 ) . The colonistsperceive in England power emanates straight from the King.Because of this reading they blame the King for themany wrongs they list in the organic structure of the Declaration ofIndependence. The settlers do non fault the people ofEngland or the English legislative assembly. This allows the tone ofthe Declaration of Independence to soften. Alternatively, of beingan onslaught on the establishments of English society theDeclaration merely attacks the King, the holder of power.Foucault ’ s reading of power would differ aggressively fromthe framers of the Declaration Of Independence. Foucault seespower as coming from the many engineerings that society usesto control people: revenue enhancement systems the jurisprudence, patriarchate, familysystems, legislative assemblies, and even democracy. These technologiesaccording to Foucault all represent different ways in whichsociety controls its members ( Foucault 307 ) . The King underFoucault ’ s reading of power bares littleresponcibilety for the grudges settlers have withEngland. The King in his position plays simply a function in the webof different engineerings of control. Foucault would see theKing as being controlled by many of the forces in society.Fulfilling his function is non so much his manifestation of hispower as the power of English society and its ability tocontrol the settlements and their dwellers. If the colonistswhen composing the Declaration of Independence had thisconception of power in head the, the tone of the documentwould have been much stronger indicting all of Englishsociety. The settlers reading of power has seriousrepercussions on the subsequent preparation of the USgovernment. Because the settlers philosophical interruption withEngland was over the power of the King the framers of theDeclaration of Independence sought to forestall a monarchy fromarising in the United States. They sought to scatter poweramong the provinces and put up a system of counterbalancingbranches of authorities that would forestall any individual branchfrom holding excessively much power. The thoughts of federalism anddecentralization were a direct branch of the colonistsinterpretation of power. Power, in the Declaration ofIndependence carries more than merely grammatical significanceto the papers. It shapes the papers ’ s significance doing itphilosophically rough toward the establishment of the King andtempered toward English society.

Volitions, Garry. Inventing America. New York: RandomHouse, 1978Miller, James. The Passion of Michel Foucault. NewYork: Anchor Books, 1993Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. New York: Vintage Books, 1975Oxford English Dictionary. London: OxfordUniversity Press, 1994

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