The Declaration of Independence was a very dangerous document; proof to the King of treason and sedition. Danielle Allen’s book is her attempt to condemn Thomas Jefferson for writing it, men for agreeing with him and Liberty itself for not including half of her ancestry, she’s descendant from African/Caribbeans via her father and WASPS, as she calls her mother. Her book is therefore treason on several levels. It hits one mark, Karl Marx to be precise. Allen is about human equality but never quite explains her understanding of the word but never mind that, the Declaration wasn’t about equality at all. The Declaration uses the word equal twice and never in the sense that individuals are equal. Her book insists the Declaration was about Equality but it was about destroying the control of a King and his military over the 13 colonies and it brilliantly justified their sedition against a despotic King. The Continental Congress was trying to get themselves out of a war that was being waged against them by the most successful military on the planet.
Allen’s book fails to mention the huge danger the members of the Continental Congress were in by simply meeting in Philadelphia in 1776. The King wanted to kill them and thereby get his land. people and revenue stream back. The Continental Congress presented the reasons they were right to call the King a tyrant and wanted the rest of the world to know why they believed the King was wrong and they were right. The 33 year old Thomas Jefferson was known to be a genius but Allen is determined to diminish him. She failed.
The colonials worked amazingly fast. The threat of being murdered by the British military required all haste. Between May 15, 1776 and July 4th, within 50 days they wrote, approved, and signed the Declaration Of Independence which separated the 13 colonies from the King of England. They they went into hiding. Many were murdered by the British during the Revolutionary War. Allen never mentions those dangers. Not once. That’s historical treason. She has her agenda which is to use the Declaration to prove the Continental Congress wanted everyone in the colonies to be equal. They had no such idea. How do we know that? Because they didn’t do anything about slavery and they didn’t yet provide a mechanism for women to vote. Allan secretly and silently pushes those ideas but she disguises her agenda behind her purposeful misuse of the pronoun “she” which she knowingly and purposely smuggles into the book. Danielle, that’s lying. .
The Declaration was a Document to Destroy the bonds between the King and the colonies. Allen doesn’t get that. Instead she tries to make the case that the Declaration was some kind of “Democratic Memo”. She even calls the Declaration a memo. That’s far too dismissive an idea about a document that told the King to stuff it. The colonials took away from the King his land and one of his revenue streams. A memo? Hardly. A Document of Destruction is not even an adequate description of what the Declaration was. It was the biggest affront the King had ever dealt with. The colonials took the colonies away from the King. He sent his Armies and Navies to get them back. His military bombarded the buildings in the colonies with their cannon. That’s hardly the result of a memo and it had nothing to do with the people of the colonies being equal to each other. That would take another 150 years.
Somehow Allen got the idea that the Declaration was moral because it was written by something she actually calls “Democratic Writing”. That’s a physical impossibility. Committee’s don’t write. Individuals do. Committee’s don’t even exist. Only individuals exist. They don’t somehow morph into a group. That’s impossible. People think with individual brains. Individuals write. Allen needs to think more about what people actually are and do instead of going off into some Marxian Fantasy land where groups of people all think together and come up with marvelous conclusions. A committee doesn’t have one brain that get’s bigger and better as more people enter a room. It’s individuals. It’s not “Our Declaration”. It wasn’t written for us or by us. John Dunlap set the type on July 4th, 1776, not the Congress. The beautiful calligraphic copy was finished by Timothy Matlack, signed and that’s the copy of the Declaration that was the official signed copy.
Should you read the book? Only if you are aware of Allen’s severe biases. She put some effort into it. Unfortunately the illustrations are mostly very poor and she’s way off base about the democratic writing and thinking stuff and of course about the equality idea. In addition it’s written on a rather sophomoric level, almost a high school level but like lots of books by liberals with agenda’s it is way short on truth. Allen doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt because she’s purposely twisting things to support her own ideas. She’s really shrill about her agenda and unfortunately she’s joining the faculty at Harvard where more minds will be bent in the wrong direction. She’s not in favor of individualism.
The Declaration is not at all complicated. It’s extremely well written. The arguments for taking away the Kings property are correct. If you can’t figure out the ideas in the Declaration on your own Allen’s book won’t help because her reasoning is fallacious and that’s being kind. You should not get the book.