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For Liberty and EqualityThe Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence$
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Alexander Tsesis

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195379693

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195379693.001.0001

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The Nation's Infancy

The Nation's Infancy

(p.24) 3 The Nation's Infancy
For Liberty and Equality

Alexander Tsesis

Oxford University Press

The Declaration of Independence listed reasons to separate from Britain and principles for the new American polity. The decision to become politically autonomous of England was coupled with a framework for a new governmental structure beholden to the will of the people. However, the political, social, legal, and economic culture of the day did not match the Declaration's idealism; the document's contemporaries understood as much. The Declaration of Independence signaled an unwavering willingness to end the privileges of aristocracy, yet blacks, unpropertied white men, and women were barred from participating in representative democracy. The revolutionary generation began tackling its own shortcomings but left fulfillment of its legacy to future generations.

Keywords:   Declaration of Independence, American policy, aristocracy, representative democracy, Britain

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