Students have read about Thomas Jefferson and his role as the author of the Declaration of Independence. In this activity students will examine the process that resulted in the document's final approval.
Students will use information from the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Web site to learn about Jefferson's role as author of the Declaration of Independence. Students will read about the drafting committee, the works that influenced Jefferson's draft, changes made to the draft, and reactions to the final draft. They will also view Jefferson's original documents, including a fragment of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by creating a collage that represents their personal ideas of freedom and identifies the literary, artistic, and musical works that influenced their compositions.
- Students will identify the works that influenced Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence and describe Jefferson's vision of the document's impact.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to create a collage that represents their personal ideas of freedom and indicates the literary, artistic, and musical works that influenced their compositions.
Student Web Activity Answers
- The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and John Adams.
- Jefferson used Scottish moral philosopher Lord Kames's idea of the "pursuit of happiness" as an inalienable right of mankind. He also drew heavily from the Virginia Declaration of Rights and his drafts for the Virginia Constitution. In addition, he used Algernon Sidney's Discourses as a textbook on the principles of government.
- Those who edited the draft of the Declaration of Independence include Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, other members of the drafting committee, and Congress. The parts that were struck out by Congress had a black line drawn under them, and items to be added appeared in the margin or in an adjacent column.
- Jefferson's objective in drafting the Declaration was to present the ideals of freedom in such a clear manner that any rational-thinking person would plainly understand America's justification for independence. His vision for the Declaration was that it would "burst the chains" that bind other societies and that it would inspire other nations to seek democracy.
- Students' collages will vary.
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