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The Declaration of Independence
In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence is the document in which the Thirteen Colonies declared themselves independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain and explained their justifications for doing so. It was ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. This anniversary is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. The handwritten copy signed by the delegates to the Congress is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration. Throughout the 1760s and 1770s, relations between Great Britain and thirteen of her North American colonies had become increasingly strained. Fighting broke out in 1775 at Lexington and Concord marking the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Although there was little initial sentiment for outright independence, the pamphlet Common Sense by Thomas Paine was able to promote the belief that total independence was the only possible route for the colonies.

The fifty-six signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton;
Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry;
Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery;
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott;
New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris;
New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark;
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross;
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean;
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton;
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton;
North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn;
South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton;
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.

We invite you to down load a digital copy of this declaration. (Click Image)

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