Manuscript

Declaration of Independence

Date: 1776
Creator: Continental Congress
About this artifact

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence crafted by the sub-committee headed by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and edited by the Congress as a whole. The document explained to "a candid world" the reasons for the decision by the United States to declare its independence from Great Britain. Stressing the right and obligation of the people to "throw off" the tyrannical government of Great Britain and "to provide new guards for their future security," the vote for independence unleashed an intense bout of constitution-making. All 13 newly independent states modified or completely jettisoned their old royal charters and governments to create republics they believed would truly represent the people.

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Courtesy United States Archives, Washington, DC