The Info List - Committee Of Five

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The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress was a team of five men who drafted and presented to the Congress what would become America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. This Declaration committee operated from June 11, 1776, until July 5, 1776, the day on which the Declaration was published.


1 The Committee 2 Drafting of the Declaration of Independence

2.1 The first draft

3 Presentation of the draft

3.1 The signing 3.2 Last minute arguments 3.3 Fair copy 3.4 The Dunlap broadside release to the public

4 References 5 External links

The Committee[edit] The members of this group were:

John Adams, representative of Massachusetts, who became the second US President Thomas Jefferson, representative of Virginia, who became the third US President Benjamin Franklin, representative of Pennsylvania, known as one of the most famous of the Founding Fathers and the first US Minister to France Roger Sherman, representative of Connecticut, the only person to sign all four of the US state papers: the Continental Association, the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution Robert Livingston, representative of New York, who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase as the Minister to France

Sherman, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and Livingston (from left to right)

Drafting of the Declaration of Independence[edit] The delegates of the United Colonies in Congress resolved to postpone until Monday, July 1, the final consideration of whether or not to declare the several sovereign independencies of the United Colonies, which had been proposed by the North Carolina resolutions of April 12 and the Virginia resolutions of May 15. The proposal, known as the Lee Resolution, was moved in Congress on June 7 by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. During these allotted three weeks Congress agreed to appoint a committee to draft a broadside statement to proclaim to the world the reasons for taking America out of the British Empire, if the Congress were to declare the said sovereign independencies.[citation needed] The actual declaration of "American Independence" is precisely the text comprising the final paragraph of the published broadside of July 4. The broadside's final paragraph repeated the text of the Lee Resolution as adopted by the declaratory resolve voted on July 2. On June 11, the Committee of Five was appointed: John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Because the committee left no minutes, there is some uncertainty about how the drafting process proceeded—accounts written many years later by Jefferson and Adams, although frequently cited, are contradictory and not entirely reliable.[1] The first draft[edit] Certainly the committee, after discussing the general outline that the document should follow, decided that Jefferson would write the first draft.[2] With Congress's busy schedule, Jefferson had limited time to write the draft over the ensuing 17 days.[3] He then consulted with the others on the committee, who reviewed the draft and made extensive changes.[4] Jefferson then produced another copy incorporating these alterations. Among the changes was the simplification of the phrase Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, which Jefferson had phrased "preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness". This was a return to wording closer to John Locke's original description of private property as a natural right, in the phrase "life, liberty, and estate".[5] Presentation of the draft[edit] On June 28, 1776, the committee presented this copy to the "Committee of the Whole" Congress, which was commemorated by one of the most famous paintings in US history (shown). The title of the document was "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled".[6]

The Committee of Five presenting their work to the Congress on June 28, 1776. Painting by John Trumbull.

The signing[edit] Although not officially noted, the estimated time was 18:26 LMT (6:26 p.m. local) for the recording of this historic vote. The Congress then heard the report of the Committee of the Whole and declared the sovereign status of the United Colonies the following day, during the afternoon of July 2. The Committee of the Whole then turned to the Declaration, and it was given a second reading before adjournment.[7] Last minute arguments[edit] On Wednesday, July 3, the Committee of the Whole gave the Declaration a third reading and commenced scrutiny of the precise wording of the proposed text. Two passages in the Committee of Five's draft were rejected by the Committee of the Whole. One was a critical reference to the English people and the other was a denunciation of the slave trade and of slavery itself. The text of the Declaration was otherwise accepted without any other major changes. Jefferson wrote in his autobiography, of the two deleted passages:

The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with still haunted the minds of many. For this reason, those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offense. The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our Northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under these censures, for though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.[8]

As John Adams recalled many years later, this work of editing the proposed text was largely completed by the time of adjournment on July 3. However, the text's formal adoption was deferred until the following morning, when the Congress voted its agreement during the late morning of July 4.[9][10] Fair copy[edit] The draft document as adopted was then referred back to the Committee of Five in order to prepare a "fair copy", this being the redrafted-as-corrected document prepared for delivery to the broadside printer, John Dunlap. And so the Committee of Five convened in the early evening of July 4 to complete its task.[11] Historians have had no documentary means by which to determine the identity of the authenticating party. It is unclear whether the Declaration was authenticated by the Committee of Five's signature, or the Committee submitted the fair copy to President Hancock for his authenticating signature, or the authentication awaited President John Hancock’s signature on the printer’s finished proof-copy of what became known as the Dunlap broadside.[citation needed] Either way, upon the July 5 release of the Dunlap broadside of the Declaration, the Committee of Five’s work was done.[12] The Dunlap broadside release to the public[edit] Upon the July 5 release of the Dunlap broadside, the public could read who had signed the Declaration. Just one signature as attested by Secretary Charles Thomson. Memories of the participants proved to be very short on this particular historic moment. Not three decades had elapsed by which time the prominent members of the Committee of Five could no longer recollect in detail what actually took place, and by their active participation, on July 4 and 5 of 1776. And so during these early decades was born the myth of a one grand ceremonial general signing on July 4, by all the delegates to Congress. The myth continues to have a very long life.[13] References[edit]

^ Maier, American Scripture, 97–105; Boyd, Evolution, 21. ^ Boyd, Evolution, 22. ^ Maier,American Scripture, 104. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2010-02-18. , retrieved on October 29, 2013 ^ Locke, John (1988) [1689]. Laslett, Peter, ed. Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press. Sec. 87, 123, 209, 222. ISBN 052135448X.  ^ Becker, Declaration of Independence, 4. ^ For verification of the afternoon July 2 date of this vote of Congress, see Harold Eberlein & Cortlandt Hubbard, Diary of Independence Hall (J.B. Lippincott Co., 1948), entry: Tuesday, July 2, 1776, pp. 171–72. See also John M. Coleman, THOMAS MCKEAN; Forgotten Leader of the Revolution (American Faculty Press, 1975), Chapter 11: Independence 1776, p. 174. See also Jane Harrington Scott, A Gentleman As Well As a Whig: Caesar Rodney and the American Revolution (University of Delaware Press, 2000), Chapter 15: Independence is Declared, p. 117 therein. Speculatively, an estimated time moment interval of 14:00 LMT up to 18:00 LMT appears to be the period during which this day’s historic events reached completion by the vote in Congress and the newspaper report of independence declared. ^ Autobiography, by Thomas Jefferson ^ A New Jersey delegate to Congress wrote to a friend during the early morning of the 4th, explaining Congress' recent editing of the Declaration: "Our Congress Resolved to Declare the United Colonies Free and independent States. A Declaration for this Purpose, I expect, will this day pass Congress, it is nearly gone through, after which it will be Proclaimed with all the State & Solemnity Circumstances will admit. It is gone so far that we must now be a free independent State, or a Conquered Country." So wrote Abraham Clark to Elias Dayton, in of Delegates to Congress, Vol. 4 May 16, 1776 – August 15, 1776, p. 378. ^ For verification of the late morning July 4 time of Congress' agreement to the text of the Declaration, see Paul H. Smith, "Time and Temperature: Philadelphia, July 4, 1776", in The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, Vol. 33, No. 4, October 1976, p. 296. See also Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), Chapter III: Mr. Jefferson and His Editors, p. 150. Speculatively, an estimated time moment interval of 10:30 LMT up to 11:00 LMT appears to be the least unlikely period during which the voted adoption of the precise wording of the text of the Declaration was completed. ^ For corroboration of time (16:45 to 18:35 LMT) of the completion of the 'fair copy' of the Declaration by the Committee of Five, see Edward Channing, A History of the United States. (N.Y: The MacMillan Co., 1912), Volume III: The American Revolution, 1761–1789; Chapter VII: The Declaration of Independence, pp. 182–209, wherein July 4th, p. 205. See also Edward Channing, A Short History of the United States. (N.Y: The MacMillan Co., 1908), Chapter V-15: The Great Declaration and the French Alliance, p. 146. ^ The Congress left no record of when, during the night of July 4/5, President John Hancock affixed his authenticating signature to either the Committee's fair copy or the Dunlap broadside master copy (the printer's proof-copy). On the extant original copies of the printed broadside one finds this: "Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, JOHN HANCOCK, President." For a scholarly appraisal of this national tragedy of the absent record of Hancock's signature moment, see Julian P. Boyd, "The Declaration of Independence: The Mystery of the Lost Original", in The Pennsylvania Magazine. Vol. C, No. 4, October 1976, pp. 438–67. ^ Congress may have taken as little as 33 days from the debates of July 1 to the opening of business on August 2, in order to establish "THE unanimous DECLARATION of the thirteen united STATES OF AMERICA", being the revised-format edition of the July 4 Declaration. This 'unanimous thirteen' edition remains on permanent public display, enshrined in the rotunda of the National Archives at Washington, D.C. For a partially successful effort to piece together the fragmented record of the genesis of the Declaration's creation during this 33-day interval, see Wilfred J. Ritz, "The Authentication of the Engrossed Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776", in the Cornell Law School's Law and History Review. Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1986, pp. 179–204. See also, Herbert Friedenwald, The Declaration of Independence: An Interpretation and an Analysis. (MacMillan & Co., 1904), pp. 138–51.

External links[edit]

Lee Resolution: "The Lee Resolution of June 7, 1776 born of the Virginia Resolve of May 15, 1776"[dead link]. Dunlap broadside: The Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence, as first published on July 5, 1776, entitled "A DECLARATION By The Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA In General Congress assembled". Goddard broadside: The Goddard broadside of the Declaration of Independence, as first published on January 31, 1777, entitled "The unanimous DECLARATION of the Thirteen United States of AMERICA".

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Declaration of Independence

Primary author

Thomas Jefferson


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John Hancock (Massachusetts)

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett William Whipple Matthew Thornton


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Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins William Ellery


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New York

William Floyd Philip Livingston Francis Lewis Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton John Witherspoon Francis Hopkinson John Hart Abraham Clark


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George Read Caesar Rodney Thomas McKean


Samuel Chase William Paca Thomas Stone Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe Richard Henry Lee Thomas Jefferson Benjamin Harrison Thomas Nelson Jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee Carter Braxton

North Carolina

William Hooper Joseph Hewes John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge Thomas Heyward Jr. Thomas Lynch Jr. Arthur Middleton


Button Gwinett Lyman Hall George Walton

See also

Virginia Declaration of Rights Lee Resolution Committee of Five Document's history

signing portrait

Second Continental Congress "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed" Independence Hall

Syng inkstand

American Revolution

Articles of Confederation


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John Dickinson

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Josiah Bartlett John Wentworth Jr.


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William Ellery Henry Marchant John Collins


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John Hanson Daniel Carroll


Richard Henry Lee John Banister Thomas Adams John Harvie Francis Lightfoot Lee

North Carolina

John Penn Cornelius Harnett John Williams

South Carolina

Henry Laurens William Henry Drayton John Mathews Richard Hutson Thomas Heyward Jr.


John Walton Edward Telfair Edward Langworthy

See also

Continental Congress Congress of the Confederation American Revolution Perpetual Union

Continental Association


President of Congress

Peyton Randolph

New Hampshire

John Sullivan Nathaniel Folsom

Massachusetts Bay

Thomas Cushing Samuel Adams John Adams Robert Treat Paine

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Stephen Hopkins Samuel Ward


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Caesar Rodney Thomas McKean George Read


Matthew Tilghman Thomas Johnson, Junr William Paca Samuel Chase


Richard Henry Lee George Washington Patrick Henry, Junr Richard Bland Benjamin Harrison Edmund Pendleton

North Carolina

William Hooper Joseph Hewes Richard Caswell

South Carolina

Henry Middleton Thomas Lynch Christopher Gadsden John Rutledge Edward Rutledge

See also

Virginia Association First Continental Congress Carpenters' Hall Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress

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Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States (1801–1809) 2nd U.S. Vice President (1797–1801) 1st U.S. Secretary of State (1790–1793) U.S. Minister to France (1785–1789) 2nd Governor of Virginia (1779–1781) Delegate, Second Continental Congress (1775–1776)

Founding documents of the United States

A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774) Initial draft, Olive Branch Petition (1775) Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775) 1776 Declaration of Independence

Committee of Five authored physical history "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed"

1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

freedom of religion

French Revolution

Co-author, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)


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Plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measure of the United States (1790) Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801)

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Benjamin Franklin

January 6, 1706 – April 17, 1790 President of Pennsylvania (1785–1788), Ambassador to France (1779–1785) Second Continental Congress (1775–1776)

Founding of the United States

Join, or Die (1754 political cartoon) Albany Plan of Union

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John Adams

2nd President of the United States, 1797–1801 1st Vice President of the United States, 1789–1797 U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 1785–1788 U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, 1782–1788 Delegate, Second Continental Congress, 1775–1778 Delegate, First Continental Congress, 1774

Founding of the United States

Braintree Instructions (1765) Boston Massacre defense Continental Association Novanglus; A History of the Dispute with America, From Its Origin in 1754 to the Present Time (1775) Thoughts on Government (1776) Declaration of Independence

May 15 preamble Committee of Five

Model Treaty

Treaty of Amity and Commerce Treaty of Alliance

Board of War Chairman of the Marine Committee, 1775-1779

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Constitution of Massachusetts (1780) Treaty of Paris, 1783


Inauguration Quasi War with France

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Marbury v. Madison

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United States presidential election 1788–1789 1792 1796 1800


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Popular culture

Profiles in Courage (1964 series) American Primitive (1969 play) 1776 (1969 musical 1972 film) The Adams Chronicles (1976 miniseries) Liberty! (1997 documentary series) Liberty's Kids (2002 animated series) John Adams (2001 book 2008 miniseries) Sons of Liberty (2015 miniseries)


"Adams and Liberty" campaign song Adams' personal library American Enlightenment Congress Hall Federalist Party

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Abigail Adams

wife Quincy family

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son presidency

Charles Adams (son) Thomas Boylston Adams (son) George W. Adams (grandson) Charles Adams Sr. (grandson) John Adams II (grandson) John Q. Adams (great-grandson) Henry Adams (great-grandson) Brooks Adams (great-grandson) John Adams Sr. (father) Susanna Boylston (mother) Elihu Adams (brother) Samuel Adams (second cousin) Louisa Adams

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