The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was threefold: to officially inform Britain about the colonies’ secession, to rally supporters of the independence cause in America, and to obtain allies abroad. These three tasks corresponded to the three intended audiences of the document: the British government officials, the colonial population, and the foreign powers that could help the new nation.


To understand why the Declaration of Independence was written, it is necessary to be aware of its historical context in which it emerged. Identifying the first part of its purpose requires knowing the cause of the Declaration of Independence. By July 4, 1776, when the document was signed, Northern American colonies of Great Britain had a long list of grievances against the Crown. These were mainly related to taxation without representation, as well as the freedoms of trade and settlement. Instead of answering the petition for redress, King George III declared the colonists to be rebels. At the same time, the Parliament passed the American Prohibitory Act of 1775, allowing to seize American vessels. These actions ran contrary to the purpose of government according to the Declaration of Independence – promoting and ensuring the common interests of the governed. Under these circumstances, the Second Continental Congress – a gathering of elected representatives of the colonies – decided to assume the responsibilities of a national government and declared the independence of the Thirteen colonies from their mother country. Officially informing the British Crown of the colonies’ claim for independence was the Declaration’s first purpose.

The second point of the Declaration of Independence was to rally supporters of the revolutionary cause for the upcoming struggle in North America. To do so, the authors of the document appealed to the values shared by the majority of their compatriots. This appeal is most evident in the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, as stated in the introductory paragraph: to protect such inalienable rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Considering that these freedoms were central to Northern American political consciousness, using them as a rallying cry to win support among the colonies’ population was a sensible move. Thus, the second purpose of the Declaration of Independence was enlisting volunteers for the inevitable upcoming struggle, as the Declaration’s authors were under no illusion that the Crown would peacefully recognize the colonies’ independence.

Finally, the significance of the Declaration of Independence also lay in the fact that it appealed to the international audience as well. By referring to the self-evident truths and unalienable rights, the authors of the documents framed their cause in global rather than purely national terms. By doing so, it depicted the colonies’ case as the struggle for freedom against tyranny – a battle that should be relevant for humankind in its entirety. As a result, the Declaration offered a valid ideological justification for any foreign power willing to undermine British dominance in North America. By supporting the struggle of the young nation, foreign allies of the Thirteen Colonies would appear not as pursuing their selfish political interests, but as participating in a noble battle for the benefit of humanity. Since the of the results of the Declaration of Independence was winning France over to the colonies’ side, the document succeeded in its third task: gathering international support for the cause and finding allies abroad.