Read the lengthy excerpt from Thomas Jefferson's autobiography that talks about the days leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the history of the document, and various other factors which involved the authoring of the Declaration.
Where is the original Declaration?
The original Declaration is now exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, DC. It has faded badly, largely because of poor preservation techniques during the 19th century. The document measures 29-3/4 inches by 24-1/2 inches.
The Declaration of Independence: Full text - US History
In This Day in History video clip: In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. This video clip is courtesy of The History Channel.
Declaration of Independence – U.S. Society and Politics
In March 1776, North Carolina’s revolutionary convention became the first to vote in favor of independence; seven other colonies had followed suit by mid-May. On June 7, the delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence before the Continental Congress when it met at the State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution and called a recess for several weeks. Before departing, however, the delegates also appointed a five-man committee–including of Virginia, of , Roger Sherman of , of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York–to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain. That document would become known as the Declaration of Independence.
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As Jefferson drafted it, the Declaration of Independence was divided into five sections, including an introduction, a preamble, a body (divided into two sections) and a conclusion. In general terms, the introduction effectively stated that seeking independence from Britain had become “necessary” for the colonies. While the body of the document outlined a list of grievances against the British crown, the preamble includes its most famous passage: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Declaration of Independence | U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
reconvened on July 1, and the following day 12 of the 13 colonies adopted Lee’s resolution for independence. The process of consideration and revision of Jefferson’s declaration (including Adams’ and Franklin’s corrections) continued on July 3 and into the late morning of July 4, during which Congress deleted and revised some one-fifth of its text. The delegates made no changes to that key preamble, however, and the basic document remained Jefferson’s words. Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence later on the (though most historians now accept that the document was not signed until August 2).
What the Declaration of Independence Really Claimed - …
As the first formal statement by a nation’s people asserting their right to choose their own government, the Declaration of Independence became a significant landmark in the history of democracy. In addition to its importance in the fate of the fledgling American nation, it also exerted a tremendous influence outside the United States, most memorably in France during the . Together with the and the , the Declaration of Independence can be counted as one of the three essential founding documents of the United States government.