Difference between Constitution and Declaration of Independence

Both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence played an important role in the history of the United States of America. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have been highly important for the spread of democratic values around the globe. These are the two separate documents and we will take a closer look at some substantial differences between them in this article.


Constitution vs Declaration of Independence
George Washington presiding over the Philadelphia Convention. A painting by Howard Chandler Christy

The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was ratified and signed in 1789 after several drafts of the document had been proposed to the Continental Congress. It took several months of debate for members of the special Constitutional Convention to agree on the final document.  Amendments, including the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments) are the integral part of the Constitution and are actually included in the document.

Declaration of Independence
The opening of the Declaration, printed on July 4, 1776 under Thomas Jefferson’s supervision

The Declaration of Independence announced the actual independence of the thirteen American colonies from Great Britain. The American lawyer John Adams was the key figure behind the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting and advocating the document whose signing demarcated the split from the British Empire and the consequent birth of the new American nation. The Declaration of Independence was signed unanimously by the members of the Congress on July, 4, 1776. Apart from the independence issues, the Declaration held a number of articles on natural and legal rights. The famous passage from the Declaration of Independence,- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”remains an ethical foundation for the political philosophy of the United States to this day.

Comparison chart

Constitution Declaration of Independence
The development and the signing of the document was a natural step in creating a democratic state Was triggered by the War for Independence
Less influential on the democracies throughout the world, but serves as an example of a governing document More influential on democracies all over the world
Is not a celebrated as a National Day in the US Is celebrated as a National Day in the US

Constitution vs Declaration of Independence

What is the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence?

  • The ratification of the Constitution was the logical step on the part of the Government of the United States in creating the democratic state. The decision to come up with the Declaration of Independence, on the other hand, was triggered by the urge of several American states to become independent from the British Empire.
  • The United States Constitution is the first document of its kind and as such, it influenced the constitutions of several other countries around the globe. The American model of the supreme law has become an example on how the governance of the state should be handled. However, the signing of the Constitution was less influential on the democracies of the world than the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. The latter influenced French Revolution leaders, as well as documents of independence in Venezuela, Vietnam, Chili, Mexico, Hungary, New Zealand, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and many others.
  • Constitution Day is celebrated annually in the United States on 17th September. Independence Day, which commemorates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, is celebrated in the United States annually on the 4th of July. Unlike Constitution Day, Independence Day is a national holiday in the United States and designates the nationhood of the country.


In this video you can see an analysis that explains the basic differences between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence: