Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents
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Drafting the Documents
Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia behind a veil of Congressionally imposed secrecy in June 1776 for a country wracked by military and political uncertainties. In anticipation of a vote for independence, the Continental Congress on June 11 appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee then delegated Thomas Jefferson to undertake the task. Jefferson worked diligently in private for days to compose a document. Proof of the arduous nature of the work can be seen in the fragment of the first known composition draft of the declaration, which is on public display here for the first time.
Jefferson then made a clean or "fair" copy of the composition declaration, which became the foundation of the document, labeled by Jefferson as the "original Rough draught." Revised first by Adams, then by Franklin, and then by the full committee, a total of forty-seven alterations including the insertion of three complete paragraphs was made on the text before it was presented to Congress on June 28. After voting for independence on July 2, the Congress then continued to refine the document, making thirty-nine additional revisions to the committee draft before its final adoption on the morning of July 4. The "original Rough draught" embodies the multiplicity of corrections, additions and deletions that were made at each step. Although most of the alterations are in Jefferson's handwriting (Jefferson later indicated the changes he believed to have been made by Adams and Franklin), quite naturally he opposed many of the changes made to his document.
Congress then ordered the Declaration of Independence printed and late on July 4, John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, produced the first printed text of the Declaration of Independence, now known as the "Dunlap Broadside." The next day John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, began dispatching copies of the Declaration to America's political and military leaders. On July 9, George Washington ordered that his personal copy of the "Dunlap Broadside," sent to him by John Hancock on July 6, be read to the assembled American army at New York. In 1783 at the war's end, General Washington brought his copy of the broadside home to Mount Vernon. This remarkable document, which has come down to us only partially intact, is accompanied in this exhibit by a complete "Dunlap Broadside"—one of only twenty-four known to exist.
On July 19, Congress ordered the production of an engrossed (officially inscribed) copy of the Declaration of Independence, which attending members of the Continental Congress, including some who had not voted for its adoption, began to sign on August 2, 1776. This document is on permanent display at the National Archives.
On July 4, 1995, more than two centuries after its composition, the Declaration of Independence, just as Jefferson predicted on its fiftieth anniversary in his letter to Roger C. Weightman, towers aloft as "the signal of arousing men to burst the chains...to assume the blessings and security of self-government" and to restore "the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion."
Declaration Of Independence Essay examples
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Rights of the People
A democracy is a system of government controlled by the people, not by one certain group or individual. In the Declaration of Independence it states that “all men are created equal,” an idea which leads to the concept that all citizens should have the same rights, responsibilities, and influence in the governing of their country. In writing the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was trying to break his ties with the harsh and non-democratic rule of the British and begin a new, equal society and government for America.
Democracy is defined as “A system of government in which ultimate political authority is vested in the People.” The Declaration’s…show more content…
He believed that it was time for America to break away from Britain’s rule and become its own nation, which could govern itself. To do this, though, it was necessary to write some sort of document which would state to the world the basic beliefs on which the nation’s new government would be built. This document was the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson felt that Britain was doing nothing but hurting America with unfair rules and all sorts of ridiculous taxes. The colonies and colonists had no rights in determining the very laws which dictated the way they led their lives. The Declaration of Independence was a formal document stating that the people of America were breaking away from Britain and that the American colonies were now “Free and Independent States.”
The Declaration of Independence was the cornerstone of American freedom and equality. By writing this document, the American Colonies could now begin the process of starting a new way of life and a new government. Obviously, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written the concept of “equality” was more limited than it is today. Certainly, all members of colonial America did not share equal status. However the concepts of the Declaration of Independence have evolved more fully over the centuries