(This was the standard line of hawks within the British government.) Rather, independence was rendered by the despotic measures of the British government.
Hence the crucial significance of the list of grievances, to which the second paragraph served as a theoretical prelude.
In later life Jefferson characterized the Declaration’s political principles as “an expression of the American mind.” It was not his intention to invent new principles but merely to summarize the principles that were widely accepted in America and that constituted the 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.
It should be kept in mind that the Declaration did not actually declare the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain; this occurred on July 2, 1776, two days before the Declaration was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4.
There was no way, within the span of a brief document, that Jefferson could have demonstrated the principles articulated in the second paragraph, nor was there any need to do this.
Jefferson said “We hold these truths to be self-evident” because he wished to express their axiomatic status among the advocates of American Independence.
We now return to the original question that has generated a cottage industry for historians and philosophers: What did Jefferson mean by “self-evident”?
One good thing about writing overviews of complex subjects is that I can plead space limitations to avoid getting bogged down in technicalities.
The introduction establishes the people’s right to separate themselves from a tyrannical government.
The body gives evidence that the British government has acted tyrannically.