Below is a timeline depicting the important dates for the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
June 7, 1776 – Virginia delegate – Richard Henry Lee – stands before the Continental Congress and reads what is to become known as the Lee Resolution Document. Within the document, he emphasizes the right of the United Colonies to be free and independent and to be absolved from any political connection and allegiance to the British Crown.
June 11, 1776 – The Continental Congress postpones consideration of the Lee Resolution and appoints a committee of five to draft a document declaring the colonies’ case for independence.
June 11 – July 1, 1776 – While the Continental Congress was in recess, Thomas Jefferson – with the assistance of the other five members – drafted the Declaration of Independence. His initial draft is edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
July 2, 1776 - Twelve colonies vote to adapt the Lee Resolution. New York – the 13th colony – did not vote. Congress takes their first look at the Declaration of Independence and begins to make alterations to the document.
July 4, 1776 – The Declaration of Independence is officially adopted and taken to John Dunlap -the official printer of the Continental Congress.
July 5, 1776 – Congress dispatches copies of the Declaration to various committees, assemblies and the commanders of the Continental troops.
July 19, 1776 – Congress formally orders the Declaration to be engrossed on parchment and signed by each member of Congress.
August 2, 1776 – The Declaration of Independence is signed by most of Congress. Signatures acquired after this date were George Wythe, August 27th - Richard Henry Lee, Elbridge Gerry and Oliver Wilcott, September 4th – Matthew Thornton, November 19th – Thomas McKean was the last person to sign, five years later in 1781.
This timeline for the Declaration of Independence depicts a brief outline of the steps taken to draft, adopt and sign this historical, five part document.