The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important founding documents of the United States. However, in modern days it becomes overlooked–why should we care about the complaints of some colonists over 200 years ago against a king long dead? What I have come to realize is that the Declaration is the heart and soul of the United States; it defines it’s purpose as a whole.
Thomas Jefferson said that the purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to express and justify the position of independence that the colonies were taking against the British government. It acknowledges the fact that human beings have certain “unalienable rights” simply by being born, from “nature and nature’s God.” This is the foundation of the Unites States–the idea that the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness [property]” are inherent to the people that can neither be given or taken away by the government.
The best way to look at the Declaration of Independence is in the context put by Abraham Lincoln. He called the principle “Liberty to all”, embodied by the Declaration, the “apple of gold.” He also called the Constitution the “frame of silver.” Lincoln said that the frame of silver (the Constitution) was made to “adorn” and “preserve” the “apple of gold” (the principle “Liberty to all”). The frame is not to take precedence over the apple, but exists to perpetuate the existence of the apple.
Ultimately, the reason that the Constitution is so easily being dismantled, is because we have forgotten what its purpose is: to protect and preserve the principle “Liberty to all.” The Declaration of Independence is still crucially important to American society because it reminds us of the principles that define the United States and gives us a sense of urgency to uphold its constitution.