What drove Jefferson and the Second Continental Congress to pen such the statement “We believe all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson wrote, “We believe all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” What drove Jefferson and the Second Continental Congress to pen such a statement?  Consider the following questions as you respond:

  • How did this break from past interpretations of government and its role?
  • How did under-represented groups, such as American Indians, slaves, and women, interpret these words?
  • In what ways did their interpretation of “all men” differ from how it was interpreted at different points in U.S. history (such as Jacksonian democracy, the experience of Native Americans, and the period of manifest destiny)?
  • In what ways did their interpretation of “all men” differ from how it is interpreted today?

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