They declared that the world was populated by men of equal rank, not kings and serfs, and that governments should be established to represent and help all, or else be torn down or altered to create a newer, better government.
The colonies had various grievances to air against the policies put forth by the Prime Minister of Britain by the time that the founding fathers met in Philadelphia during the blisteringly hot summer of 1776.
One of the grievances was one of basic principles. They set forth that King George of Britain had not been upholding his responsibilities as representative of all his people, including those of the colonies. Basing their ideas on theories put forth by philosophers like John Locke and John Milton, who said that regardless if it was a king or a local magistrate, their power and authority they wielded came from the people, and could be taken away if the people no longer trusted in them. The founding fathers argued that the actions of King George had egregiously driven into the realm of despotism rather than proper governing.
Secondly, they argued that when a government did not represent them, then the common people have every right to destroy or alter the former government, and create a new and better one in its stead that would again represent them.
Thirdly, once the founding principles allowing a subject to free itself had been established, they then went on to list some of the ways in which the British government had abused their power, including:
- Outlawing the passing of laws of pressing importance by the local governors unless given his Assent, and then neglecting to give that assent.
- Withholding the passage of needed regulations and laws until the colonial governments agreed to dissolve themselves in favor of giving their powers to the king.
- Dissolving elected representative bodies when they did not agree with the King's unjust decrees.
- Not allowing representatives to be elected.
- Imposing taxes without the consent and without any return benefit to the people.
- Keeping a standing army in the colonies against the will of the people, and keeping them in the peoples' homes, taking their food and beds. Even to the point of protecting them in mock trials for any crimes or murders they should commit.
These are just a few of the arguments posed in the Declaration of Independence, though most essential was the rather nascent ideas -
though certainly not original - that the Divine Right of Governance of King George was not absolute, and that the common person could instead delineate a new form of government.