Junior Ranger Challenge -- Declaration of Independence

What is the Declaration of Independence?

The Declaration of Independence is a document that says the American colonies will no longer be ruled by Great Britain. They declare that they are independent, and will rule themselves. This important document goes back to 1776 when some people in America said that the British King and government treated them unfairly. But, you will still hear the words in the Declaration of Independence used today - words like “all men are created equal” - when people around the world fight for their rights.
 
Color image of the top half of the handwritten Declaration of Independence with brown ink on cream paper.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged to give up what was most important to them for freedom.  What would you give up for freedom?

National Archives and Records Administration

 

Your challenge: Make a tough decision.

 

Directions

1. Look carefully at the picture of the Declaration of Independence.
2. Read the stories about the Declaration of Independence below.
3. Answer the challenge question at the bottom.
 

Preamble

This part of the Declaration begins with the words, "When in the course of human events..." The preamble contains a statement of individual rights: “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.” Rights are things that belong to us that should never be taken away. The Declaration goes on to say that if the government tries to take these rights away, the people have the right to form a new government.
 

Grievances (the complaints)

The longest part of the Declaration lists all the unfair actions of the British King and government. In these complaints, the colonists make it clear that they are angry with the British King and government for taking away their rights as English citizens, like the right to a trial by jury. They say the King is “unfit to be the ruler of a free people”.
 

Formal statement of independence

This part says that the 13 colonies are free and independent states. It breaks all ties with the British government and people. This section ends with important words. The words tell us what the signers of the Declaration of Independence were willing to give up for freedom, “…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
 

Challenge Question

Think of something really, really, really important to you (your pets? your school? your grades? your little sister?). What would you be willing to give up for it? Choose one of the answers below, or come up with your own answer.
  • Watching TV
  • Eating your favorite food
  • Playing your favorite video game
  • All your money

Last updated: July 6, 2019

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