The Declaration of Independence is without a doubt one of the most important documents ever to be written in American history. It was signed by fifty-six different men, all representatives from different states. But who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Most of us know today the author of the Declaration of Independence as Thomas Jefferson. But many do not know the history behind the man or the Declaration. Let’s look at some important events leading up to the signing and writing of the Declaration.
Why was the Declaration written?
During the 1700s, the British Parliament passed several laws that limited the freedoms of many English colonists in America. Theses limitations resulted in the forming of the first Continental Congress in 1774. A list of complaints was sent to King George III but was ignored and after the second meeting of the Continental Congress and another ignored letter, the colonists felt that they needed something to declare their independence. Rebellion was the only choice the colonists felt they had left due to the King ignoring their letters.
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
Although we know Thomas Jefferson as the true author, the Second Continental Congress initially appointed five people to draw up a declaration. The committee included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was then given the task of writing a draft for the Declaration of Independence, which from June 11 to June 28 he worked on. Before he presented the Declaration to the Continental Congress, he showed it to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin; they made revisions. He presented the draft to Congress on July 1, 1776 and more revisions were made. On the fourth of July the delegates met in what we know today as Independence Hall, but back then was known as the Pennsylvania State House, and approved the Declaration. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress signed the declaration along with Charles Thomson and it was sent to John Dunlap’s print shop for printing.
About Thomas Jefferson
As the author of the Declaration of Independence there is much history behind the actual writing of the Declaration, from education to politics.
Early years of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 into a family that was related to some of the most prominent individuals in Virginia. In school Jefferson studied Latin, Greek and French, and when he was fourteen years old his father died. Jefferson inherited a lot of land and dozens of slaves.
Thomas Jefferson practiced law in the Virginia House of Burgesses. In 1774 he wrote “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”? which became a very powerful argument of American terms for settlement with Britain. It would definitely light a fire and help to speed the way to independence. Jefferson drew heavily on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights and much of his own work on the Virginia Constitution in his efforts to write the Declaration of Independence. Twenty six changes were made before the actual draft was given to the Continental Congress.
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Well, the author is known as Thomas Jefferson, but there were many hands that helped revise and deliver the document and more importantly, fifty six that signed and would have given their lives for the cause of freedom.
None Ya' Business says
Very Nice What?! I felt asleep XDD
I saw her picture on Instagram that’s what I meant
She goes to cathey middle school
thanks this helped me so much on my essay
Barbara Feldman says
Glad to hear it.
Helped with my poster project, Thanks!
Lissa Silo says
Thanks ! Helped Me A Lot With My Project !
This helped me with my essay. Thanks : )
it did not help much
It helped me alot
wait had to read, it did help,sorry :d
Anon ymous says
So very sad, that not one word of this is being taught in Public Schools any more.
not true, we learn this in history where i go to school
I’m a US History teacher and my students read and summarize the Declaration of Independence.
That sounds hard. I’m in 5th grade though.
Our APUSH class teacher is willing to give us extra credit if we carry around a copy of the Declaration, and more points if we are able to recite part of it — if its outside of school. Now everyone has a copy embedded in their phone case!
My friend is taking a test and one of the questions were who wrote the declaration of independence and the choices are george washington abrham lincoln barack obama and james maddison… thomas jefferson is not an option and it is an american citizen test…im confused please help!!!
Merry Juerling says
i think if those are your choices then it would be george washington.
Rick Staheli says
George Washington did not sign it, therefore, it is not the right answer. Write in ‘None of the above, Thomas Jefferson wrote it.’ Then tell the test administrator you would like to contest the question when you hand in your test.
I think you should talk to the teacher. George Washington didm’t even sign the Declaration; I think he lived in the post-Declaration period.
And show them this article!
Rick Staheli says
The Declaration was signed in 1776. George Washington was a General throughout the Revolutionary War, which was from 1775 to 1783, therefore, he lived during that period.
vey help full wish people would teach history in my school
you guys should have a way to make sites like ( MLA OR APA ) some students need certain ways to cite so yea that would be helpful…..
person of the future says
Thanks! this helped me ace a test
Where were they located?
Ok. so the Continental Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence, why didn’t they let the people vote for it too. Anyone?
Derotha Ann Reynolds says
They were representatives of the people. People around the world were just getting used to the fact that perhaps a king didn’t have the right to make decisions for the people, and being able to have a representative stand up for your rights against a king was revolutionary in itself. The representatives were very well educated, and familiar with the concepts in the document. The right to vote in itself had not yet been established. Remember, the concept of statehood had not yet been established among the colonies. These men had been chosen by the colonies that they represented, in the spirit of obtaining justice for the common people on the American continent, with the principle of justice being the deciding concept. A republic is based on the adherence to principles like “justice.” A republic needs more than just majority rule in order to survive. Without broad education in truthful principle, a republic cannot survive, which is what prompted Benjamin Franklin to comment that the United States of America is only a republic if you can keep it.
Even after the Declaration of Independence, after the victory over the British Army, after the adoption of the Constitution, the concept of the relationship between the states, the people, and the federal government has continued to evolve. Many people feel that the concept of majority rule is the most important aspect of Democracy. But a democracy whose majority votes for policies that are ultimately destructive will answer to the truthful principles of history. Majority rule is necessary in order to consent to be governed, which is the problem that King George of England confronted in 1776. But in order for Benjamin Franklin’s republic to survive, it needs more than majority opinion. It needs an informed majority that understands the concepts that are presented in the Declaration of Independence.
Although Thomas Jefferson created the draft of this document, it was the work of many men, and it responsibly represented not only the people who resided in the American colonies, but all of the people in the world. It was not only the gateway to offering the right to vote to all men (and, later, former slaves and women) but it is also a reminder that we as voting citizens have the responsibility to know and understand the concepts involved at least as well as the men who signed this document. The method of choosing the representatives who created this document varied from colony to colony, but involved voting, in some sense. Voting as we know it today did not at the time have the necessary infrastructure or the necessary shared awareness of residing in a sovereign state.
To quote from the document itself:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
After all, the document had to be written before anyone could vote for it. The people in the American Colonies later voted with their blood, and with their lives. It passed.
Joop Rozema says
The dutch independence from the King of Spain of 1581 has been used a the primary source. John Adams was familiar with the history of this first true republic in the world. The USA owed most of its text to the Dutch.
Shania Redmon says
America is so hypocritical. Thomas Jefferson wrote a whole letter declaring freedom and independence but had slaves!!!!!
Isn’t it strange that the owner of slaves would write about that “all men are created “equal,” and that all mankind possess certain “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?” And slavery was allowed to continue throughout the development of the New Nation up until the late nineteenth century.