The Declaration of Independence was a resolution that declared the independence of the American colonies. Before the declaration, the colonies were under the rule of the British crown. The declaration was adopted by the Second Continental Congress which included representatives from all the thirteen American colonies.
The Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted on July 4, 1776.
In 1776, the American colonies were at war with Britain. The colonies were previously ruled by the British colonial administration. But when the British government tried to impose unfair taxes on the colonies, this created resentment among the Americans.
The disagreements finally erupted into a war in 1775. When the attempts of the colonists to reach an amicable end to the crisis failed, they convened a meeting of representatives from all the thirteen colonies. This became known as the Second Continental Congress. It was at this Congress that the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
When it became clear in 1776 that Britain didn’t want to come to terms with the Colonies, the Congress decided to pursue a path of complete independence. However, it needed the support and votes of a majority of its members in order to do so.
Around this time, many publications around the Thirteen Colonies advocated independence from Britain. Their demand soon became the demand of the masses. To create the draft for the Declaration, the Congress appointed five men. They came to be known as the ‘Committee of Five’.
The Committee of Five comprised of five members of the Second Continental Congress who were tasked with drafting the text of the Declaration. These five members were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston.
Of these five members, Thomas Jefferson was the principal author who formulated the first draft of the declaration. He then shared the draft with other members who reviewed, revised and finalized it.
The text of the Declaration of Independence includes some of the most famous quotations from American history. An excerpt from the declaration reads
‘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’.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by a majority of the delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Many of these signatories would later be viewed as the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
In all, 56 delegates to the Congress signed the declaration. The signature of John Hancock, the then President of the Congress, was the most prominent and has since become an icon. Other signatories included Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the future presidents of the United States, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman were also a part of the Committee of Five who were prominent in the Declaration of Independence.