The Declaration of Independence is one of the most influential documents in modern history, the inspiration for what would become the most powerful democracy in the world. In this sweeping synthesis of the Declaration's impact on American life, Alexander Tsesis offers a deeply researched narrative that highlights the many surprising ways in which this document has influenced American politics, laws, and society. The drafting of the Bill of Rights, the Reconstruction Amendments, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights movement are all heavily indebted to the Declaration's principles of representative government. Tsesis demonstrates that from the founding to the present, the Declaration has played a central role in American political and social advocacy, congressional debates, and presidential decisions. His focus is on how successive generations internalized, adapted, and interpreted its meaning. Tsesis also shines a light on the many American failures to live up to the ideals enshrined in the document. Evenhanded throughout, this sweeping synthesis shows how our founding document shaped America through successive eras, and why its influence has been crucial to the nation and our way of life.