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The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

A Global History

David Armitage

ISBN 9780674030329

Publication date: 12/15/2008

In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.

Armitage examines the Declaration as a political, legal, and intellectual document, and is the first to treat it entirely within a broad international framework. He shows how the Declaration arose within a global moment in the late eighteenth century similar to our own. He uses over one hundred declarations of independence written since 1776 to show the influence and role the U.S. Declaration has played in creating a world of states out of a world of empires. He discusses why the framers’ language of natural rights did not resonate in Britain, how the document was interpreted in the rest of the world, whether the Declaration established a new nation or a collection of states, and where and how the Declaration has had an overt influence on independence movements—from Haiti to Vietnam, and from Venezuela to Rhodesia.

Included is the text of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and sample declarations from around the world. An eye-opening list of declarations of independence since 1776 is compiled here for the first time. This unique global perspective demonstrates the singular role of the United States document as a founding statement of our modern world.

Praise

  • More so than the Constitution…the Declaration has also become a global document, a piece of intellectual and political common property that has transcended the circumstances of its creation and perhaps even the intentions of its authors. Surprisingly, this afterlife has not received systematic and ‘global’ treatment by historians, and David Armitage is to be congratulated on his concise and well-written study of the Declaration as, to use his own words, ‘an event, a document, and the beginning of a genre.’ He shows that it was first and foremost an ‘international’ document, driven by the need to establish the legitimacy of the united colonies within the state-system and thus their right to conclude alliances against Britain.

    —Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal

Author

  • David Armitage is Professor of History at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 7 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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