This introductory chapter sets out the focus of the book, namely the various ways politicians, associations, groups, and individuals have relied on the Declaration of Independence to justify changing policies, laws, and customs. The book's aim is to examine the evolving relevance of the Declaration of Independence. It attempts to uncover the extent to which the Declaration's readily recognizable statement about self-evident truths has influenced the course of history in the United States. It investigates whether the document's guarantee of equal liberty is substantive or merely ornamental. The humanitarian ideals on which the nation was founded have not always withstood the pressure of special interest groups. The document's message of universal freedoms nevertheless continues to be the national manifesto of representative democracy and fundamental rights.
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