The Declaration of Independence

The history of the Declaration of Independence does not begin on July 4, 1776. Without including all the buildup to America's independence, the story begins June 7, 1776. It was on that date, that a Virginia delegate, Richard Henry Lee, read at the Continental Congress a resolution stating that the colonies were to be independent States, free from Britain.[1]


On June 11, 1776, the above resolution was postponed.[2] However, an appointment was created to draft a statement for the colonies' argument for independence, not just to Britain, but worldwide.[3] Those appointed were referred to as the "Committee of Five."[4] These five individuals were John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson.[5]


Over a three-week period, starting June 11, 1776, Thomas Jefferson worked on writing the declaration.[6] John Adams and Benjamin Franklin revised it.[7] Then on July 2, twelve of the thirteen colonies adopted the Lee Resolution; only New York did not vote.[8] Congress then made some revisions to the Declaration of Independence.[9] This editing process included "...alterations and deletions..." and were completed from July 2, straight up until July 4, 1776.[10]


On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.[11] A manuscript was taken, by the "Committe of Five," to Congress' official printer, John Dunlap.[12] The printed copies were dispersed as necessary by members of Congress on July 5, 1776.[13]


Most members of congress signed the declaration on August 2, 1776.[14] On August 27, 1776, George Wythe signed; on September 4, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, Elbridge Gerry, and Oliver Wilcott signed.[15] On November 19, 1776, Matthew Thornton signed; and it was not until 1781, that Thomas McKean signed.[16]


The Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives from the thirteen states of the United States of America.[17] Those states being Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.[18]



[1] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section July 7, 1776: Lee Resolution.

[2] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section June 11, 1776: Committee of Five Appointed.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section June 11-July 1, 1776: Declaration of Independence Drafted.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section July 2, 1776: Lee Resolution Adopted & Consideration of Declaration.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section July 4, 1776: Declaration of Independence Adopted & Printed.

[12] Ibid.

[13] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section July 5, 1776: Copies of the Declaration Dispatched.

[14] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section August 2, 1776: Declaration signed.

[15] "Creating the Declaration: A Timeline," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/timeline : accessed 3 July 2022), section August 2, 1776: Declaration signed.

[16] Ibid.

[17] "Declaration of Independence: A Transcription," America's Founding Documents, Archives.gov (https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript : accessed 3 July 2022).

[18] Ibid.

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