Refresh Your Memory!
The Declaration of Independence
On April 19, 1775, during the Battles of Lexington and Concord (Mass.), the first shots were fired between colonists and British troops, starting the American Revolution. After these first military conflicts, tension between Britain and her American colonists continued to mount. Finally, on July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted for independence from Britain.
Two days later, on July 4, the Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, which had been written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. On July 8, the first public reading of the Declaration took place at the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Later that same day, other readings occurred in Trenton, New Jersey, and Easton, Pennsylvania.
Printer John Dunlap made about 200 copies of the Declaration dated July 4. Known as the “Dunlap Broadsides,” these were distributed throughout the 13 colonies. However, it wasn’t until August 2 that the Declaration was officially signed. John Hancock, president of the Congress, was the first of 56 delegates who signed this enlarged version, writing in big, bold letters.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in the history of the United States. It was an official act taken by all 13 American colonies in declaring independence from British rule.
Here is an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence (US 1776):
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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.