Declaration of Independence - Video

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In January 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense which argued in favor of colonial independence. It stimulated public debate about the topic of independence that previously few people dared to discuss. Public support for independence increased as a result of the pamphlet.

In early 1776, there was still considerable debate in Congress over independence. Not all of the colonies were in favor of independence from Britain. For Congress to declare independence, at least one colony would need to propose a declaration of independence and a majority of delegates from the other colonies would need to approve the resolution with their vote. Congress appointed a committee to draft a preamble explaining the purpose of the resolution. John Adams wrote the preamble explaining the need for a declaration of independence. On May 15, after several days of debate, Congress passed the preamble with a majority of the colonies. Only four colonies voted against the preamble, and one colony abstained from the vote.

On June 11, 1776, Congress appointed John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft the formal Declaration of Independence. The committee decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. After review by the committee, and a series of changes to the document, the committee presented the declaration to Congress on June 28, 1776. After considerable debate and negotiating, the Congress voted in favor of the declaration on on July 2, 1776. However, it still took two days of additional debate to finalize the words in the document. On July 4, 1776, the wording of the Declaration of Independence was formally approved by Congress and it was released for publication.

At the time the declaration was written, the colonies had been at war with Britain for more than a year. The colonies were revolting against British Tax Acts and other Acts the colonies considered to be Intolerable Acts. The declaration was written to justify the independence of the United States from Britain by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural rights, including a right of revolution.

The most famous and well know line of the Declaration of Independence is:

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.

Check out these videos to learn more about the Declaration of Independence. Also see the following link for the complete words of the Declaration of Independence.












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