The History of the present King of Great Britain

In referring to "the history of the present King," Jefferson is of course referring to King George III, whose reign began in 1760. It was during his reign that the disagreements and tensions between the Americans and the British government became acute. Prior to his reign, American relations with the British were often strained, but never to the point of an open break. There had been long quarrels between the American colonial legislatures, elected by the people, and officials appointed by the king, over policy and taxes. But now, as the Declaration charted, King George's actions displayed the intention of establishing "an absolute Tyranny over these States." This was strong language indeed, and it reflected the Americans' conviction that the British government was no longer content to allow the colonies to govern themselves, in most of their affairs, through assemblies elected in America.

Tyranny may be defined, from the point of view of the Declaration, as a form of government that violates the principles of the consent of the governed and securing the unalienable rights of the people, and so may be rightfully resisted. The point of the long list of the charges against the King was to demonstrate to all the world that King George was a tyrant.