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Declaration of Independence

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Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee brought what came to be called the Lee Resolution before the Continental Congress. This resolution stated “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states …” Congress debated independence for several days. The Committee of Five — John AdamsBenjamin FranklinRoger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson — was given the job of drafting a formal Declaration of Independence. They gave the task of writing the document to Jefferson.

Writing the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration contained 3 sections: a general statement of natural rights theory and the purpose of government; a list of grievances against the British King; and the declaration of independence from England. More than 20 years later, the Second, Third, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution would contain prohibitions against the government to prevent the same forms of tyranny as were listed as grievances. Jefferson’s writing was influenced by George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, as well as by his study of natural rights theory and the writings of John Locke, including Two Treatises of Government. Franklin and Adams edited Jefferson’s draft, and the final document was presented to Congress about two weeks later.

When was the Declaration of Independence Signed

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from England. Congress made several changes to Jefferson’s draft, including removing references condemning slavery. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed it that day. The rest of the Congress signed two months later. By affixing their names to the document, the signers courageously pledged to each other their “lives … fortunes … and sacred honor.”

Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

Georgia
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Maryland
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire
Matthew Thornton

Declaration of Independence Explained

Declaration of Independence | Primary Source Essentials

Primary Source by Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, John Hancock (1776)



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