1 Towards independence 2 Approval and declaration
2.1 Congressional journal entries
3 Notes 4 References 5 External links
American Revolutionary War
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be,
free and independent States, that they are absolved from all
allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection
between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be,
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for
forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the
respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
Congress as a whole was not yet ready to declare independence at that
moment, because the delegates from some of the colonies, including
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, had not
yet been authorized to vote for independence. Voting on the first
clause of Lee's resolution was therefore postponed for three weeks
while advocates of independence worked to build support in the
colonial governments for the resolution. Meanwhile, a Committee of
Five was appointed to prepare a formal declaration so that it would be
ready when independence, which almost everyone recognized was now
inevitable, was approved. The committee prepared a declaration of
independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, and presented it
to Congress on June 28, 1776.
Approval and declaration
The declaration was set aside while the resolution of independence was
debated for several days. The vote on the independence section of the
Lee resolution had been postponed until Monday, July 1, when it was
taken up by the Committee of the Whole. At the request of South
Carolina, the resolution was not acted upon until the following day in
the hope of securing unanimity. A trial vote had been tested on the
1st where it was found that
This day the CONTINENTAL CONGRESS declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES.
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE and
After passing the resolution of independence on July 2, Congress
turned its attention to the text of the declaration. Over several days
of debate, Congress made a number of alterations to the text,
including adding the wording of Lee's resolution of independence to
the conclusion. The final text of the declaration was approved by
Congress on July 4 and sent off to be printed.
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans
celebrated Independence Day on July 4, the date the much-publicized
Declaration of Independence was approved, rather than on July 2, the
date the resolution of independence was adopted.
As noted above, the two latter parts of the
Friday, June 7, "certain resolutions respecting independency" are
moved and seconded; discussion set for Saturday
Saturday, June 8, Congress considers the resolutions but postpones a
Monday, June 10, Congress postpones the first part of Lee's resolution
for three weeks, and also decides to appoint "a committee to prepare a
declaration to the effect of the said first resolution".
Tuesday, June 11, Congress establishes three committees to pursue the
three part resolution, and names five members of the first "to prepare
Wednesday, June 12, Congress appointments members of the other two
committees. One of 13 members to "prepare and digest the form of a
confederation", and the other of five members to "prepare a plan of
treaties to be proposed to foreign powers".
Friday, June 28, the committee reports its draft of the declaration,
which is ordered "To lie on the table."
Monday, July 1, Congress begins "to take into consideration the
resolution respecting independency"
Tuesday, July 2, Congress agrees to the resolution, begins to consider
Wednesday, July 3, further consideration of the declaration
Thursday, July 4, the Declaration of Independence is approved. The
text of the Declaration on this day's entry of the published Journal,
as well as the list of signatures, is copied from the engrossed
version of the Declaration.
Friday, July 12, The committee appointed to prepare articles of
confederation delivered their draft, which was read.
Monday, July 15, Congress learns that New York now supports
Thursday, July 18, The committee appointed to prepare a plan of
treaties to be entered into with foreign states or kingdoms delivered
their draft, which was read.
Friday, July 19, Congress orders that the Declaration "be fairly
engrossed on parchment"
Friday, August 2, the Declaration of Independence is signed by members
Tuesday, August 27, The amended plan of treaties was referred back to
the committee to develop instructions regarding the amendments made by
Congress. The committee size was increased by two members.
Thursday, August 29, the committee for the plan of treaties was
empowered to prepare further appropriate instructions, and report back
Tuesday, September 17, Congress discussed the amended plan of treaties
to be proposed to foreign nations, and [secretly] passed the plan of a
treaty be proposed to His Most Christian Majesty.
Tuesday, September 24, Congress resumed consideration of the
instructions to the agent [commissioner] regarding the pursuit of the
plan of treaty with France, debated it by paragraph, amended it, and
Thursday, September 26, 1776 Congress elects three commissioners to
the court of France, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Thomas
Jefferson. They also resolve "That secresy shall be observed until the
farther Order of Congress; and that until permission be obtained from
Congress to disclose the particulars of this business, no member be
permitted to say any thing more upon this subject, than that Congress
have taken such steps as they judged necessary for the purpose of
obtaining foreign Alliance."
Saturday, November 15, 1777, Congress approves the Articles of
^ Milestones: 1776-1783: The Model Treaty, 1776, Department of State,
Office of the Historian. from archive.org
^ Jensen, Merrill (1959). The Articles of Confederation: An
Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American
Revolution, 1774–1781. University of Wisconsin Press.
pp. 127–84. ISBN 978-0-299-00204-6.
^ Schwarz, Frederic D. (February–March 2006). "225 Years Ago".
American Heritage. Archived from the original on 2009-06-01.
^ Boyd, Evolution of the Text, 18; Maier, American Scripture, 63. For
text of the May 15
Boyd, Julian P. The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of the Text. Originally published 1945. Revised edition edited by Gerard W. Gawalt. University Press of New England, 1999. ISBN 0-8444-0980-4. Burnett, Edward Cody. The Continental Congress. New York: Norton, 1941. Hogeland, William. Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. ISBN 1-4165-8409-9; ISBN 978-1-4165-8409-4. Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Knopf, 1997. ISBN 0-679-45492-6.
Text of Lee's Resolution from the
Avalon Project at Yale Law School
v t e
Historical documents of the United States
Preamble & Articles
Preamble I II III IV V VI VII
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Congressional Apportionment Titles of Nobility Corwin (State Domestic Institutions) Child Labor
Equal Rights District of Columbia Voting Rights
List of Constitutional Amendments
Bill of Rights (Amendments 1–10)
History Articles of Confederation Mount Vernon Conference Annapolis Convention Philadelphia Convention
Appointments Appropriations Assistance of Counsel Bill of credit Case or Controversy Citizenship Commerce Compact Compulsory Process Confrontation Contract Copyright and Patent Double Jeopardy Due Process Equal Protection Establishment Exceptions Excessive Bail Ex post facto Extradition Free Exercise Free Speech Fugitive Slave Full Faith and Credit General Welfare Guarantee Impeachment Import-Export Ineligibility (Emolument) Militia Natural-born citizen Necessary and Proper New States No Religious Test Oath or Affirmation Origination Petition Postal Presentment Privileges and Immunities Privileges or Immunities Recommendation Self-Incrimination Speech or Debate Speedy Trial State of the Union Supremacy Suspension Take Care Takings Taxing and Spending Territorial Title of Nobility Treaty Trial by Jury Vesting Vicinage War Powers List of clauses
Concurrent powers Congressional enforcement Constitutional law Criminal procedure Criminal sentencing Dormant Commerce Clause Enumerated powers Equal footing Executive privilege Incorporation of the Bill of Rights Judicial review Nondelegation doctrine Preemption Saxbe fix Separation of church and state Separation of powers Taxation power Unitary executive theory
John Langdon Nicholas Gilman
Nathaniel Gorham Rufus King
William Samuel Johnson Roger Sherman
William Livingston David Brearley William Paterson Jonathan Dayton
Benjamin Franklin Thomas Mifflin Robert Morris George Clymer Thomas Fitzsimons Jared Ingersoll James Wilson Gouverneur Morris
George Read Gunning Bedford Jr. John Dickinson Richard Bassett Jacob Broom
James McHenry Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Daniel Carroll
John Blair James Madison
William Blount Richard Dobbs Spaight Hugh Williamson
John Rutledge Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Charles Pinckney Pierce Butler
William Few Abraham Baldwin
Display and legacy
Independence Mall Constitution Day Constitution Gardens National Constitution Center Scene at the Signing of the Constitution (painting) A More Perfect Union (film) Worldwide influence
Declaration of Independence
President of Congress
Josiah Bartlett William Whipple Matthew Thornton
Samuel Adams John Adams Robert Treat Paine Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins William Ellery
Roger Sherman Samuel Huntington William Williams Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd Philip Livingston Francis Lewis Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton John Witherspoon Francis Hopkinson John Hart Abraham Clark
Robert Morris Benjamin Rush Benjamin Franklin John Morton George Clymer James Smith George Taylor James Wilson George Ross
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
William Hooper Joseph Hewes John Penn
Edward Rutledge Thomas Heyward Jr. Thomas Lynch Jr. Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinett Lyman Hall George Walton
Second Continental Congress "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed" Independence Hall
Articles of Confederation
Josiah Bartlett John Wentworth Jr.
John Hancock Samuel Adams Elbridge Gerry Francis Dana James Lovell Samuel Holten
William Ellery Henry Marchant John Collins
Roger Sherman Samuel Huntington Oliver Wolcott Titus Hosmer Andrew Adams
James Duane Francis Lewis William Duer Gouverneur Morris
John Witherspoon Nathaniel Scudder
Robert Morris Daniel Roberdeau Jonathan Bayard Smith William Clingan Joseph Reed
Thomas McKean John Dickinson Nicholas Van Dyke
John Hanson Daniel Carroll
Richard Henry Lee John Banister Thomas Adams John Harvie Francis Lightfoot Lee
John Penn Cornelius Harnett John Williams
Henry Laurens William Henry Drayton John Mathews Richard Hutson Thomas Heyward Jr.
John Walton Edward Telfair Edward Langworthy
Continental Congress Congress of the Confederation American Revolution Perpetual Union
President of Congress
John Sullivan Nathaniel Folsom
Thomas Cushing Samuel Adams John Adams Robert Treat Paine
Stephen Hopkins Samuel Ward
Eliphalet Dyer Roger Sherman Silas Deane
Isaac Low John Alsop John Jay James Duane Philip Livingston William Floyd Henry Wisner Simon Boerum
James Kinsey William Livingston Stephen Crane Richard Smith John De Hart
Joseph Galloway John Dickinson Charles Humphreys Thomas Mifflin Edward Biddle John Morton George Ross
The Lower Counties
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
William Hooper Joseph Hewes Richard Caswell
Henry Middleton Thomas Lynch Christopher Gadsden John Rutledge Edward Rutledge
v t e
Origins of the American Revolution: writings
American resolves, declarations, petitions, essays and pamphlets prior to the Declaration of Independence (July 1776)
Following the Stamp Act (1765)
Letters from a Farmer in
Following the Coercive Acts (1774)
Chestertown Resolves (May 1774) Bush River Resolution (March 1775)
1st Continental Congress
2nd Continental Congress
Olive Branch Petition
Essays and pamphlets