THE 225THnANNIVERSARYn^ OF THEnDECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEnIs the Declaration of Independence part of the federal Constitution?nThe short answer, of course, is “no.” For the Declarationnto be part of the Constitution, it would have to havenbeen included in the original document ratified by at least ninenof the conventions held in the original 13 states between 1787nand 1789, or added by amendment, which requires a tvvo-thirdsnvote of both houses of Congress and the assent of three quartersnof the state legislatures. The Declaration was never ratified byneither method. It is also possible to add amendments through annew national constitutional convention, with ratification bynstate legislatures, but this has never happened.nSome political theorists claim that the principles of the Declarationnwere incorporated into the Constitution during thenCivil War, through some quasi-magical amendment processnconjured up, through executive fiat, by President Lincoln. Thisnoccurred sometime around when he extraconstitutionallynemancipated Hie slaves in the states that had seceded from thenUnion or, perhaps, when he delivered the Gett)’sburg Address.nSome law professors have sought to find an incorporation of thenDeclaration through the Reconstruction amendments; while itnis true that those amendments did bring us closer to some ideasnStephen B. Presser is the legal-affairs editor for Chronicles.n22/CHRONICLESn”We Hold These Truths”nby Stephen B. Pressernnnfound in the Declaration, they could not—either explicitly ornimplicitly—make the Declaration part of the Constitution.nNevertheless, it would be wrong to conclude tiiat the Declarationnhas no relevance for interpreting the Constitution, and asnwe celebrate the Declaration’s 225th anniversary, it is useful tonremember just what the Declaration was and how it relates tonthe Constitution.nThe Resolution of Independence from Great Britain, whichnpreceded the Declaration, was an act of the representatives ofnthe 13 colonies and might propedy be viewed as the act of 13nnewly sovereign states. These states were the entities that ratifiednthe federal Constitution in 1789, and while the states’ representativesncertainly approved of the Declaration, the Declarationnitself held no constitutional force. As Jefferson (or whoeverndrafted the phrase) made clear, the Declaration was the submissionnof “facts” to a “candid world” to support the decision tonbreak with our mother country. It was an explanation of a politicalnact and might be regarded today as something similar tonlegislative history; that is, we might consider it helpful in interpretingnwhat happened, but it has no independent force of law.nOr we might think of it simply as propaganda —seriouslyntrumped-up charges against Parliament and the king calculatednto secure the aid of the French and otiier European powers inn