The Volokh Conspiracy

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American Revolution

Writings on the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution

A collection of links to some of my previous writings on these topics, which remain relevant today.


The Declaration of Independence. (National Archives.)


Over the years, I have written a number of posts and articles on the American Revolution and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.. Some have obvious continuing relevance to such issues as identity politics, nationalism, immigration, the role of slavery in American history, and others.

This post is an expansion of last year's similar compendium. This year, I am spending July 4 in Britain, which is simultaneously appropriate and heretical. Appropriate because the Enlightenment liberal ideals underlying the Declaration came to us in large part from the British; heretical because the American Revolution was, of course, a rebellion against British rule.

I hope the links are useful, and stir reflection on the principles of the Declaration. Unless otherwise noted, all of these pieces were published as posts on the Volokh Conspiracy blog.

"The Declaration of Independence and the Case for Non-Ethnic Secession," July 4, 2009.

"The Declaration of Independence and the Case for a Polity Based on Universal Principles," July 4, 2017.

"The Universalist Principles of the Declaration of Independence," July 4, 2019. Why it matters that the Declaration elevates universal liberal principles over racial, ethnic, and cultural particularism.

"The Case Against the Case Against the American Revolution," July 4, 2019. A rebuttal to longstanding claims—advanced by critics on both right and left—that the Revolution did more harm than good.

"Slavery, the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass' 'What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?'", July 4, 2020. Douglass's famous speech sheds light on some of America's greatest evils—but also on the great good done by the Revolution and Founding.

"Juneteenth and the Universalist Principles of the American Revolution," June 19, 2021. Why there is no inconsistency in celebrating both July 4 and the abolition of slavery. Indeed, the two are mutually reinforcing.

"Immigration and the Principles of the Declaration of Independence," July 4, 2021. This piece explains why the ideals of the Declaration and the Founding require free migration rights.

"Juneteenth Celebrates a Great American Achievement," June 19, 2023. An extension of some of the key points made in my 2021 Juneteenth post, linked above.

"The Declaration of Independence Promotes Individual Liberty More than Collective Self-Determination," July 4, 2023. The "liberty" the Declaration advocates is more about individual freedom than the power of majorities to rule over the rest of society, or the power of ethnic groups to rule "their" territory.

"The Case Against Nationalism," National Affairs, Winter 2024 (with Alex Nowrasteh). This article is a more general critique of nationalism. But it includes a section explaining why nationalism is inimical to the ideals of the Declaration and the Founding.