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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.
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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
(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
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
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|IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
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
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
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