United States Declaration of Independence

Engrossed copy of the United States Declaration of Independence
Engrossed copy of the United States Declaration of Independence

Historical Context

Signed by representatives from 13 states on 4th July 1776 the declaration was a statement adopted by the Second Congressional Congress and the first step toward forming an independence United States.

The declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by the Committee of Five headed by John Adams before being further refined by Congress. It was first printed and disseminated by John Dunlap in Philadelphia and then sent across America. A copy reached the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army George Washington who read it to his troops on the 9th July.

The engrossed version of the Declaration with its signatures was requested by Congress in 1777 and it is this copy that resides on display in the National Archives. By 1820 the document was already showing some wear so an engraving was made and it is this engraved image which is now the mostly widely known image and that pictured here.

Document Info

Author(s): Thomas Jefferson et al.
Date taken: July 4, 1776
Location signed: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Related Events

  • 1776-06-07 Richard Lee (Virginia) moves Declaration of Independence in Continental Congress
  • 1776-06-11 Continental Congress creates committee to draft a Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as members
  • 1776-06-28 Final draft of Declaration of Independence submitted to Continental Congress
  • 1776-07-01 1st vote on Declaration of Independence for Britain's North American colonies
  • 1776-07-04 US Congress proclaims the Declaration of Independence and independence from Great Britain
  • 1776-07-06 American Declaration of Independence announced on front page of "PA Evening Gazette"
  • 1776-07-08 Colonel John Nixon gives the 1st public reading of the Declaration of Independence to an assemblage of citizens in Philadelphia
  • 1776-07-09 Declaration of Independence is read to George Washington's troops in New York
  • 1776-08-02 Formal signing of the US Declaration of Independence by 56 people (date most accepted by modern historians)
  • 1776-08-10 American Revolutionary War: word of the United States Declaration of Independence reaches London.
  • 1791-08-19 Benjamin Banneker sends a copy of his Almanac and writes a letter to Thomas Jefferson criticizing his pro-slavery stance and requesting justice for African Americans using language from the Declaration of Independence
  • 1826-07-04 Past presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both die on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President John Quincy Adams calls "visible and palpable remarks of Divine Favor"

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