A Memory Aid for Remembering the Gist of the Declaration

Long ago, I began the habit of composing memory aids that helped me study for exams or simply remember the salient facts from particular periods of American history.

If you want to remember the ideology and justification for the American Revolution and how they were expressed in the Declaration, think: DOI (Declaration of Independence). Here’s what the letters mean in the memory aid.

D = Declaration of natural rights: The words of the natural rights statement in the Declaration are straightforward – “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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

O = Objections to the arbitrary power of King George III, his ministers, and Parliament: “… When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

The main ideas are:

  • There are 27 Grievances against the King in the Declaration aimed at making the case he is a tyrant.
  • The case for George III’s tyranny is justified in part by his rejection of the Olive Branch Petition.
  • The American Revolution is a just war to end rule by a despot.

I = Independence means separation and sovereignty, not reconciliation and reunion.

The main ideas are:

  •  The United States of America are independent states (never forget it’s plural!)
  • The Declaration argues the total dissolution of the political bonds between America, the British Empire, and British king.
  • There is no going back to the status quo.

The memory aid is a handy way to remember the bare-bone facts and significance of the Declaration during the American Revolution.

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