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The Declaration of Independence



The Continental Army


  • In June of 1775 - John Adams nominated George Washington to be the Commander and Chief of the New Continental Army


  • George Washington he said "was a gentleman whose skill as an officer"..would command the respect of America."


The Second Continental Congress was Formed


  • In 1775 - the Second Continental Congress was formed to share news with colonies


  • June 1775 - This Congress tried to make peace with King George III of Britain one last time---so they sent "The Olive Branch Petition" to the King


  • Olives have been a symbol of peace


  • The Olive Branch petition: stated Americans were loyal to Britain and that the Intolerable Acts should be repealed to end the fights


King George III


  • King George III received the Olive Branch Petition about 4 months later because it takes awhile for ships to get to Britain


  • He refused to read the petition because he said it was an "illegal Congress" that created it


  • He said that the colonists were "traitors"


  • Traitors: are people that turn against their own country



Washington takes Boston


  • Washington sent Henry Knox (a former bookseller who became a soldier) to Fort Ticonderoga to get the cannons that were there to bring to Boston


  • Knox and his men dragged the cannons 250 miles from New York to Boston over snow and frozen rivers


  • By March of 1776- Washington pointed the cannons at the British ships in the Boston Harbor and the British fled and Washington took over Boston


Thomas Paine


  • In 1776 a Pennslyvania man from England wrote a pamphlet called "Common Sense"


  • This pamphlet sold over 100,000 copies


  • Paine argued in it that the colonists do not have to be loyal to an unjust ruler


  • Washington supported the pamphlet because it helped change the minds of Americans to support the fight for Independence


The Declaration of Independence

  • Because King George III did not want to compromise: The 2nd Continental Congress decided that it needed to Declare that America wanted to be free and independent as a new country from Great Britain

  • A committee asked John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston to write a Declaration

  • Adams selected Jefferson, who was a 33 year old lawyer to write one

The Declaration of Independence

  • Thomas Jefferson wrote it in a period of 2 weeks time

  • Jefferson had heard speeches of Patrick Henry, he had read "Common Sense," he had studied law, and he had read ideas from the Enlightenment authors such as John Locke

  • Locke believed that people were born with certain rights by birth----life-liberty and right to own property and Government needed to protect these rights

The Declaration of Independence

  • Thomas Jefferson used the ideas that he learned from all of his experiences to write the Declaration

  • He wanted to let Britain and the King know that there was a higher power than the British Government and that the colonists were loyal to that power over the British rule

The Declaration of Independence

  • It was approved and signed by the 2nd Continental Congress on July 4, 1776

  • This document did not end the war-it simply stated that the colonists wanted their own government apart from Britain

  • John Hancock was the first to sign it-he wrote his name so big so "King George would not need his glasses to read it"

  • Sometimes people call signatures "John Hancock's" today as a result

The Declaration of Independence: A document of hope for the world

  • By signing this document: These men had become "traitors" to Great Britain----if they lost the war they would most likely be hanged

  • The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to explain why the colonies had to separate from Great Britain----it was bold to put these ideas in writing

The Declaration of Independence

  • The major Points:

    1. The Rights of man given to him by God

    2. Governments help protect rights (This idea from John Locke)

    3. Reasons why British Govt. did not protect rights

    4. The Colonies should therefore be free and create their own Govt. (This idea came from Richard Henry Lee)

The Declaration of Independence

  • Bells rang through the colonies as it was read to each colony publicly

  • People celebrated and cheered for this meant freedom and liberty from a controlling government

  • We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th every year in honor of this day-it is the birth of our Independence and our country: The United States of America