Declaration of Independence

Adopted on July 4, 1776, by the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the United States of America. In addition to the Congress's official explanation of “the causes which impel” Americans to declare their independence from Great Britain, the document also identifies the founders' political philosophy of limited government dedicated to the protection of individual rights.

On June 11, 1776, anticipating a vote on Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee's resolution calling for independence, Congress appointed a five-man committee to draft a declaration justifying that momentous step. The committee members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Jefferson was assigned the task ...

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