Social Studies - 2018-19

VUS.4e - Declaration of Independence

The student will apply social science skills to understand the issues and events leading to and during the Revolutionary Period by

e) evaluating how key principles in the Declaration of Independence grew in importance to become unifying ideas of American political philosophy.

Adopted: 2015


Unit Themes

Unit Essential Questions


How do systems, ideas, or beliefs change over time?

Constitutional Principles 

How does the US Constitution shape our lives as Americans?  


How does democracy shape the American experience?


The American Revolution was inspired by ideas concerning natural rights and political authority, and its successful completion affected people and governments throughout the world for many generations.

The revolutionary generation formulated the political philosophy and laid the institutional foundations for the system of government under which Americans live.

New political ideas about the relationship between people and their government helped to justify the Declaration of Independence.


The Declaration of Independence 

 The Declaration of Independence was inspired by ideas concerning natural rights and political authority that laid the institutional foundations for the system of government that ultimately unified the American people. 

 The eventual draft of the Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, reflected the ideas of John Locke and Thomas Paine. 

 Locke’s writings on “natural rights,” “social contract,” “ordered liberty,” and “consent of the governed” were incorporated when Jefferson wrote:

o “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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.”

o “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

o “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government…” 

 Paine’s Common Sense challenged the rule of the American colonies by the King of England. It was read by many American colonists and contributed to the growing sentiment for independence from Great Britain. Jefferson incorporated into the Declaration of Independence many of the grievances against the King of England that Paine had outlined in Common Sense.


Terms & EventsPeople



Natural Rights

Social Contract

Ordered Liberty


Common Sense

Declaration of Independence



French and Indian War

Stamp Act

Boston Tea Party

First Continental Congress

Boston Massacre

American Revolution

Treaty of Alliance with France

Battle of Yorktown

John Locke

Thomas Paine

Thomas Jefferson


Patrick Henry

George Washington

Proclamation of 1763

Lexington and Concord



Loyalists (Tories)


Ben Franklin

Updated: May 18, 2018