American History Documents

In Congress, 4 July 1776. A Declaration... Philadelphia, John Dunlap, 1776.

Lilly Library J10.D76 vault

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On July 2, 1776, "the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled" resolved "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States." Two days later, behind the locked doors of the State House in Philadelphia, the Committee of Five, made up of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, presented before the Congress the draft of a declaration on which they had been at work since mid-June, intended to justify to the world the action the Colonies had taken. After some discussion and a number of changes in the wording, the document was approved. Under the watchful eyes of the Committee of Five, it was set in type; and sometime on the night of July 4th or the morning of July 5th, the historic "Declaration of Independence" came off the press of the Philadelphia printer John Dunlap.
Only twenty-one copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence survive. click here for the text

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