The Defense of American Sovereignty: The Declaration of Independence as a Foreign Policy Statement

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

The Claremont Graduate University

Cedarville University School or Department

History and Government


Declaration of Independence, American sovereignty, foreign policy


This study deals with the defense of American sovereignty. Sovereignty, of course, is the ability of nation to maintain stability, equality and self-control in the world community.

The Declaration of Independence is described in this study as America's first foreign policy statement. The Declaration has long been viewed by many observers as a foreign policy statement aimed at the French government for the purpose of securing French recognition and assistance in their revolutionary struggle against the King of England. As a foreign policy statement, the Declaration is more than just a proclamation directed at one European power. The assertion of natural rights, contained in the Declaration, as well as the list of grievances against the King of England, demonstrate that the Americans longed to take their place in the world community as a nation free from outside influence and control. Furthermore, they desired to be a people who were able to develop to fruition in their rights as free men.

The Declaration of Independence, then, set down the principles of sovereignty for the United States. These principles have been continually challenged through the years, but America has always risen to the challenge of defending them.

This study examines four episodes in American History when the principles of American sovereignty, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, were challenged: (1) The Federalist Papers and the ratification of the Constitution; (2) The Monroe Doctrine and American westward growth; (3) The Civil War; and, (4) America's entry into the World Wars.

This study shows that the United States has always taken responsible action in defending their sovereignty. What the study questions, however, is whether or not the United States is still willing and able to defend her sovereignty in the face of some contemporary threats, such as: the Communist threat in Central America, the narcotics trade and "narco-terrorism," and the ability to control American borders with a satisfactory immigration policy.

The major conclusion of this work is that the United States possesses the ability to act in defense of sovereignty, but is often times unwilling to take the drastic measures needed to do it.


Alternate title: "The Declaration of Independence and the Continual Defense of American Sovereignty"