Declaration of Independence

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The Declaration of Independence was approved at the Second Constitutional Congress. The Declaration of Independence introduced a fundamental change in the view of government. Thomas Jefferson declared that governments were created to serve the people, and could only act with consent of the people. It created the democratic government.

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Thomas Paine's Common Sense

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On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published a booklet called Common Sense. In the booklet, he described his vision of a government in which the people, through their elected representatives, would have supreme power. He was the first to openly suggest independence from Britain. The booklet was broadly circulated, and even George Washington read it. Thomas Paine's booklet would have a major influence on Thomas Jefferson in his writing of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Meeting of the Continental Congress

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The Continental Congress held the Virginia Convention in May, 1776. Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution for the colonies to become free and independent states. The Congress appointed a committee to draft the formal declaration of independence. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. This committee then chose Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft.

 

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

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Signing of the Declaration of Independence
Signing of the Declaration of Independence
(Source: Library of Congress)
The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, with the assistance of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The document defined the rights of the people of the independent states. On July 2, 1776, the members of the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. The delegates then held a second vote and approved the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, President of the Congress and Charles Thomson, the secretary, signed the document. July 4, 1776 is officially recognized as the birth of America.

The Declaration of Independence introduced a fundamental change in the view of government. Thomas Jefferson declared that governments were created to serve the people, and could only act with consent of the people. It created the democratic government.

The declaration consisted of two parts. The preamble describes the peoples rights and it states that " all Men are created equal" and have the God-given right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The second part declares independence from Britain, and lists the colonies' issues against the British government.

 

Declaration of Independence

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
THE UNANIMOUS
DECLARATION
OF THE
THIRTEEN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands, which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.

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, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness....

Full Text of the Declaration of Independence

Picture of the Declaration of Independence

Picture of the Declaration of Independence

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