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Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents


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Drafting the Documents

Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia behind a veil of Congressionally imposed secrecy in June 1776 for a country wracked by military and political uncertainties. In anticipation of a vote for independence, the Continental Congress on June 11 appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee then delegated Thomas Jefferson to undertake the task. Jefferson worked diligently in private for days to compose a document. Proof of the arduous nature of the work can be seen in the fragment of the first known composition draft of the declaration, which is on public display here for the first time.

Jefferson then made a clean or “fair” copy of the composition declaration, which became the foundation of the document, labeled by Jefferson as the “original Rough draught.” Revised first by Adams, then by Franklin, and then by the full committee, a total of forty-seven alterations including the insertion of three complete paragraphs was made on the text before it was presented to Congress on June 28. After voting for independence on July 2, the Congress then continued to refine the document, making thirty-nine additional revisions to the committee draft before its final adoption on the morning of July 4. The “original Rough draught” embodies the multiplicity of corrections, additions and deletions that were made at each step. Although most of the alterations are in Jefferson’s handwriting (Jefferson later indicated the changes he believed to have been made by Adams and Franklin), quite naturally he opposed many of the changes made to his document.

Congress then ordered the Declaration of Independence printed and late on July 4, John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, produced the first printed text of the Declaration of Independence, now known as the “Dunlap Broadside.” The next day John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, began dispatching copies of the Declaration to America’s political and military leaders. On July 9, George Washington ordered that his personal copy of the “Dunlap Broadside,” sent to him by John Hancock on July 6, be read to the assembled American army at New York. In 1783 at the war’s end, General Washington brought his copy of the broadside home to Mount Vernon. This remarkable document, which has come down to us only partially intact, is accompanied in this exhibit by a complete “Dunlap Broadside”—one of only twenty-four known to exist.

On July 19, Congress ordered the production of an engrossed (officially inscribed) copy of the Declaration of Independence, which attending members of the Continental Congress, including some who had not voted for its adoption, began to sign on August 2, 1776. This document is on permanent display at the National Archives.

On July 4, 1995, more than two centuries after its composition, the Declaration of Independence, just as Jefferson predicted on its fiftieth anniversary in his letter to Roger C. Weightman, towers aloft as “the signal of arousing men to burst the chains…to assume the blessings and security of self-government” and to restore “the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion.”

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Parsons College > Free Essays > What Caused the American Colonies Decided to Declare Independence?

What Caused the American Colonies Decided to Declare Independence?


The colonists had a requirement for independence from Great Britain for a variety of reasons. The pressure was growing rapidly among Great Britain and the thirteen colonies because of the unfair laws that totally restricted borders and controlled them. Such as the existence of taxation without fair submission in the parliament, the rights of them to the collection were taken away by Britain. More than that, they were constantly intimidated. This is, in general, very weighty motives that they took to the hands of the England government in order to secede from Great Britain.

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King George III appears as the strongest complaint written in the Declaration of Independence. He most strongly angered the colonists by taxation without submission. None of the persons living in thirteen colonies had direct assemblies in the Parliament of Great Britain. This was the cause why they had no right to vote for who would represent them and how they would be taxed. Because of the deprivation of colonists of such rights, the British administration freely assessed taxes to the colonists when they wanted and the amount they wanted.

The better part of the colonists feared that their property would be taken away because of unbearable tax earnings and the lack of opportunity to fight taxation. In 1767 The Townshend Law was announced. This law was regulated colonial trade and tax collection from them. The UK administration abused the rights of them as Englishmen. This was due to the fact that laws in England claimed that “someone may not be taxed if he or she does not have a voice in the government. This gave rise to fear and anger that came from the free government that Britain had over the colonists. This continued until the war began. During the pre-revolutionary years, the British government introduced a number of laws on taxation. Nevertheless, the war amongst France and India was a struggle among Great Britain and France, which lasted from 1754-1763. This again aroused indignation among the colonists, because of debts, the United Kingdom began again to demand everything from the colonists.

Since 1764, the United Kingdom began to strengthen control over the American colonies through acts. The Sugar Law was adopted to increase the duty on foreign sugar imported from the West Indies. The UK adopted a currency law prohibiting colonies from issuing paper bills or bills due to the belief that the colonial currency devalued British money. In addition, in order to continue to support the British soldiers remaining in America after the war, Britain passed the Quartering Act in 1765. It was the 24th March when Britain passed the Law on Quartering Act. The reason for the quartering act of 1765 was at increasing the incomes of the British colonies in America. This became the source of disputes among some colonies and Great Britain in the years before the revolution.

The British soldiers settled in the houses of the colonists. Just why the colonists had to arrange and feed them. The significant legislative act, which really violated the colonists, was the Press Act, adopted in 1765. This law required that stamps be purchased or included in various subjects and documents, such as playing cards, legal documents, newspapers and much more. This was, in general, the first direct tax that Britain imposed on the colonists. Events began to escalate with the passage of the Townshend Acts in 1767.

The resolution of creating these taxes was to help colonial officials become independent of the colonists, giving them a source of income. It was this act that led to clashes between British troops and colonists, which caused the notorious Boston massacre. When the British soldiers opened fire on the crowd, showering them with ridicule. Several people were killed. The army was hurried out of the city. These unfair requests led to tension and anger and led the colonists to claim, as well as to the war of independence. Moreover, this led to the identification of evidence of unfair British control in all other countries. India was another country subjected to British dominance.

India was subject to pressure like colonists. Many aspects of social life and religious beliefs were declared illegal by Britain only because the English considered them “disgusting.” In addition, the British also imposed unfair taxes on India. When they began to establish their supremacy over the provinces in India, the tax on salt grew very much. The salt tax blamed the Indian people for basic human need and forbade them to make their salt. These taxes were strict for Indian citizens and were severely condemned by them.

Despite public protests regarding the salt tax, it continued to be in force from 1835 to 1946. While this tax was not abolished by President Jawaharlal Nehru.

On the 4th July in 1776 the first colony to declare independence and on the 19th July all the 13 colonies declaration of independence. However, after declaring independence from Great Britain in 1776, the war would last for five years. England deployed an army of 300 thousand people. To suppress the “rebellion” of the American colonies could not collect an army of 55 thousand people, the best British commanders, and naval commanders rejected the king’s proposals to fight with the Americans, the people looked at the campaign, so the king was waging as a fratricidal war.

The complaints and protests against British pressure and control arose not only among the Americans but also among people living in British India. This fact proves precisely that British rule is irrational and unfair. The main outbreak of complaint, protest, and condemnation was the cause of unfair taxation and pressure with it on the colonists.

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