The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopted on July 4th, 1776, and proclaimed the secession of 13 North American colonies from the U.K. The inevitability of a break with the mother country, which especially increased after the beginning of hostilities in April 1775, was realized by a growing number of Americans.
June 7, 1776 R.G.Lee at the session of Congress introduced the supported by John Adams resolution that stated: “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are completely exempt from allegiance to the British Crown; that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and should be completely dissolved.” After the debate, held on 7th – 10th June, voting for the resolution was postponed until July, 1st and on June, 11th, to prepare the Declaration of Independence and to support the resolution, the committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson , John Adams , Benjamin Franklin, R. Sherman and R.R. Livingstone was elected. The Committee honored Thomas Jefferson to prepare a draft of the Declaration of Independence, who was working on its text during 17 days (from 11th to 28th of June), without the help of scientific treatises, pamphlets or colleagues from the committee. Declaration, as its author later recalled, was intended to “serve as an expression of American aspirations, and to give it the proper tone and spirit.”
Jefferson’s draft with minor editorial amendments, which were made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, was introduced to Congress on June, 28th. The discussion around R.G. Lee resolution resumed on July, 1st and ended with its unanimous approval right the next day. Then the discussion of the draft of the Declaration began, in which it has been amended, in particular the chapter, condemning slavery and the slave trade, was removed. In the evening of July, 4th the Declaration was unanimously approved and certified by the signatures of the President of Congress John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson. The Delegation of New York did not take part in the voting on 2d and 4th of July due to the lack of the necessary authority and joined the general consensus only on July, 15th.
The Declaration of Independence has not only explained the reasons that led the Americans to the separation from the mother country. It was the first document in the history, which declared the principle of sovereignty as the basis of government. Its embossed wording argued for the right of people to revolt and overthrow the despotic government, proclaimed basic idea of democracy – equality of human beings, their “inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaration was not only a “birth certificate” of the new state, but also a recognized monument of American literature: Jefferson was able to express well-known principles and ideas with the magnificent language, but in a concise and accessible form.
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The signing ceremony of the reproduced on parchment the Declaration of Independence, took place on August 2d, 1776, when after John Hancock, 55 more people have put their signatures. J.. Dickinson, J. Jay and R. R. Livingston refused to sign the Declaration. At the same time Bracton K. and E. Rutledge signed the Declaration, despite the fact that earlier they played against it, and R. Morris, who considered it premature, put his signature as well. A number of signatures (T. McKean, M. Thornton) appeared much later on 2d of August. The names of all 56 people who signed the Declaration are encrypted in the US history. The extensive literature and the memorial in Washington were dedicated for them. In the famous painting by J. Tremblay, “The signing of the Declaration of Independence”, which hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol, 36 of the 48 written characters were depicted in their lifetime.
The original Declaration of Independence, which was kept in the Library of Congress, in December, 1952 was transferred to the National Archives building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC , along with the originals of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is now presented for viewing in the exhibition hall.
The day of the adoption of the Declaration on July, 4th has become a national holiday in the U.S. – the Independence Day, celebrated annually across the country.
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