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Harmonizing Sentiments

The Declaration of Independence and the Jeffersonian Idea of Self-Government

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Hans L. Eicholz

Harmonizing Sentiments: The Declaration of Independence and the Jeffersonian Idea of Self-Government introduces the reader to the major issues concerning America’s statement justifying independence. It covers the first controversy between loyalists and patriots, explores the document’s intellectual sources, evaluates the degree to which the Declaration’s ideals were fulfilled or rejected by the Constitution, and concludes by investigating its current political and legal implications. Readers will be intrigued by the author’s argument for approaching the Declaration with an understanding of eighteenth-century political economy and ideas about a natural social order. The importance of Jefferson as a conduit through which these ideas were expressed is defended against recent attempts to de-emphasize the centrality of the Declaration’s author. The work concludes that the Declaration’s focus upon the abuses of power is still relevant for understanding American political institutions.