The Declaration of Independence Essay

5844 Words Sep 15th, 2014 24 Pages
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE (1776)
Thomas Jefferson

Context

The Declaration of Independence, completed and signed in July of 1776, marked the official separation between the 13 colonies and Great Britain. An armed struggle between the colonies and Britain had begun just over a year before, with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The formal declaration of independence established the new American revolutionary government and officially declared war against Great Britain. The primary purpose of the declaration was to assist the Second Continental Congress in obtaining aid from foreign countries. The document also clearly outlines the history of abuses the colonists had suffered under British rule since the end of the French
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Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a resolution for independence in June of 1776. The Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence that consisted of John Adams (MA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), Thomas Jefferson (VA), Robert Livingston (NY) and Roger Sherman (CT).
The job of drafting the Declaration of Independence fell to the youngest member of the committee, Thomas Jefferson. In composing the declaration, Jefferson drew on ideas from the Enlightenment, especially those of John Locke. Not only did the declaration represent a milestone in the history of the United States, it also turned the political philosophies of 18th century Europe into real political practice.

Key Historical Figures

Colonies - The 13 colonies of British North America included New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. A representative from each colony was sent to the Second Continental Congress in May of 1775 to debate the topic of independence. Although initial disagreement seemed to stall the drive towards independence, by July 2nd, 1776 all 13 colonies committed to fighting in the war for independence.
Thomas Jefferson - A plantation owner and a lawyer,