"The passage asserts a natural right to revolution interpreted as separation, as independence—self-determination in contemporary language. The right to “alter or to abolish” a government and to institute a new one which will secure individual rights is to be exercised by a people and by seceding, that is, not by absolutely abolishing the old government, but by withdrawing from it. Certainly the Declaration uses the language of revolution: it speaks of “altering former Systems of Government,” but it intends a territorial withdrawal together with a revolutionary re-institution of the true features of the old system. Jefferson, following Locke, had already argued in his Summary View of the Rights of British America of 1774 that the very settling of this country was an expression of such a natural right of removal, the right of
Going in quest of new habitation…and establishing new societies under such laws and regulations as shall seem most likely to promote public happiness."