The Declaration was addressed as much to these people as it was to “mankind” at large.
Jefferson wished to convince fence-sitters and skeptics that independence was not a reckless scheme hatched by hotheaded, seditious radicals who were eager to grab power for themselves.
The conclusion unequivocally states that the colonies “ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.” conclusion, openly declare themselves enemies to the British crown.
The word “ought”, used twice in the conclusion, implies moral correctness and makes a final appeal to Natural Law. Its authors call upon divine intervention to aid their cause and appeal to God in order to persuade the nations of the world of the justness of their act.
With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America.
The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
I hereby proffer this plea, with the understanding that I will gladly discuss this controversy in more detail in the Comments section of this page, should readers be interested.
The epistemological interpretation might be credible if Jefferson had confined his self-evident truths to the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” but he doesn’t stop there.
In later life Jefferson characterized the Declaration’s political principles as “an expression of the American mind.” It was not his intention to invent new principles but merely to summarize the principles that were widely accepted in America and that constituted the When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
It should be kept in mind that the Declaration did not actually declare the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain; this occurred on July 2, 1776, two days before the Declaration was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4.