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America the Story of Us: Declaration of Independence

This idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams,
and Jefferson working on the Declaration
(Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900) was widely reprinted.

The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a resolution earlier in the year which made a formal declaration inevitable. A committee was assembled to draft the formal declaration, to be ready when congress voted on independence. Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document,[2] which congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Independence Day of the United States of America is celebrated on July 4, the day Congress approved the wording of the Declaration.
The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution. Since then, it has come to be considered a major statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

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.

This has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language"[4], containing "the most potent and consequential words in American history."[5] The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.[6] It has inspired work for the rights of marginalized people throughout the world.

Panel #9
Writing of Declaration of Independence

Early founding Fathers- John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson
(1776)

E Pluribus Unum
"Out of Many, One"
HISTORY in a FLAG
Fifty historical moments that defines one nation