Having endured a year at war with Great Britain, the thirteen American colonies, represented by the Continental Congress, were ready to declare their independence.  Thomas Jefferson is generally given the credit for writing the Declaration of Independence. 

However, a committee was originally established for this task consisting of five members:

 

  • John Adams
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Robert R. Livingston
  • Roger Sherman

 

Of these five gentlemen, Jefferson was responsible for drafting the document.  He began his work on June 11th, and after several revisions, presented his final work to the rest of the committee on June 28th.  At that point, John Adams and Ben Franklin made some revisions to the document, which was then presented to the Congress on July 1st.  Congress also made some revisions.  On July 2, 1776, the final vote of the Continental Congress declared their vote for independence and released their final copy to the public on July 4th

 

Some little known facts about the Declaration of Independence:

  • The date on the actual document is July 2nd, the date the Continental Congress voted for independence. 
  • The document itself was not actually signed until August 2, 1776. 
  • John Adams, 2nd President, had actually marked July 2nd as the date to be memorialized.
  • The youngest signer of the document was Edward Rutledge.  A 26 year old from South Carolina, Rutledge did not agree with the part of the document which condemned slavery.   At first, he opposed the colonies independence from Britain, but was eventually swayed otherwise.  It is believed the omission of the part about slavery contributed to his change of heart.
  • The oldest person to sign the Declaration of Independence was Benjamin Franklin – age 70.  He was noted as making a statement just prior to signing about the importance of hanging together, otherwise, they would most definitely be hung separately.

 

This proved to be a difficult time indeed for the British colonies as they faced uncertain military and political retaliation.  They felt strong enough in their convictions though to move forward, a move which would inspire the writing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that would forever change the destiny of the newly found colonies and forever shape the future of the United States of America.