The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are two of the most important and influential documents in the history of the United States of America while similarities are consistent in the two documents, there are differences as well. These documents, specifically, the Declaration of Independence, focused on the future and fundamental rights of our country, but were drafted in reaction to a number of events occurring around the time they were drafted. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were created in order to ensure that an overly centralized government would not be achieved in the United States of America.
The Declaration of Independence focused on freedom from the governance over the United States at the time the document was drafted. The Bill of Rights however, was drafted in order to establish new governance. The Declaration of Independence is its own standing document and has never been amended. The Bill of Rights is basically an amendment as it is composed of the first ten amendments of the Constitution.
The grievance in the Declaration of Independence “For imposing taxes on us without our consent” speaks to the various taxes imposed by King George. The taxations that led to this grievance include the Stamp and Sugar Acts, the Declaratory Act and the Tea Act of 1773. The book “Out of Many” speaks specifically about the Sugar and Stamp Acts. The book explains that Britain was in need of revenue and to that end, created additional and higher taxes. In 1974, the sugar act was enacted. The Sugar Act decreased the duty for molasses and colonial commerce restrictions were tightened. Not long after, the Stamp Act was enacted in 1765. This act imposed taxes on items such as playing cards and stamped documents. Colonists baulked at the act citing taxation without representation and Britain argued that virtual representation via members of the parliament was sufficient. With two countries at odds, there were a number of protests in various forms against the act leading to a “repeal” of the act; however, colonists were left feeling that the repeal was merely a postponement and conflicts which stemmed from the act were not resolved. This grievance is reflected in the constitution under Article I, Section 8, Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. This clause further emphasizes that taxation will no longer be unreasonable as it was under King George III; rather, it will be fair and consistent. (Faragher, Buhle and Czitrom 2016)
The Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were just the beginning of the growth of the country we know today as the United States of America. The Bill of Rights still serves as a safeguard toward the power that the federal government is able to impose upon the citizens of America as well as visitors in America. The Declaration of Independence bravely announced that the then 13 Colonies of America were no longer willing to be a part of the British Empire which squandered the rights of American citizens. It is hard to say where our great country would be without these documents today. However, given the adherence to these documents throughout America’s history, Americans can rest assured the rights discussed in these documents will remain self-evident and the pursuit of happiness remains strong and ever evolving.