Delaware Recommended Curriculum Close Reading Lesson Title: The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

Strategy Two: Gathering Information

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Strategy Two: Gathering Information

Close Reading

Provide students with the text of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence (Handout 1). Then, follow these steps:

  • First, the teacher will read the text aloud.

  • Then, the teacher will read the text aloud again and stop to discuss some of the key vocabulary.

  • On the second reading, students should make notes on the vocabulary in the margin, and write any thoughts that they feel may be important. Emphasize that students are not expected to know all the words or understand everything in the text right away. The text will be read closely several times to uncover what it means.

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Self-evident: clearly true and requiring no proof or explanation

Derive: obtain something from a specified source

Transient: lasting only for a short time; impermanent.

Usurpation: A wrongful seizure or exercise of authority or privilege belonging to another; an encroachment

Despotism: the exercise of absolute power, esp. in a cruel and oppressive way.

1 Underline = words which cannot be discovered in context by students. Boldface words are tier 2 that can be determined in context.

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