Declaration of Independence Was Illegal

At Philadelphia debate, British team makes the case against nationhood
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2011 4:40 AM CDT
Updated Oct 20, 2011 5:47 AM CDT
Declaration of Independence Was Illegal
This 19th-century painting depicts insurgents Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams reviewing a draft of the Declaration of Independence.   (Library of Congress)

Teams of British and American lawyers clashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday over the legitimacy of the United States of America. At the debate, sponsored by legal associations from both countries, lawyers for the former colonial power argued that America's Declaration of Independence in 1776 "was not only illegal, but actually treasonable," the BBC reports. "What if Texas decided today it wanted to secede from the Union?" they asked, deciding that the Americans had no legal grounds for secession. "Lincoln made the case against secession and he was right."

"The grievances listed in the Declaration were too trivial to justify secession," the British lawyers wrote. "The main one—no taxation without representation—was no more than a wish on the part of the colonists, to avoid paying for the expense of protecting them against the French during seven years of arduous war and conflict." The American lawyers countered that the Declaration's validity has been proven by "subsequent independence movements which have been enforced by world opinion as right and just." At the end of the debate, which took place just a few blocks away from where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration, a vote was held and American independence was reaffirmed. (More Declaration of Independence stories.)

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