1776 – 1777


  • June 7

    Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, receives Richard Henry Lee's resolution urging Congress to declare independence.
  • June 11

    Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston appointed to a committee to draft a declaration of independence. American army retreats to Lake Champlain from Canada.
  • June 12-27

    Jefferson, at the request of the committee, drafts a declaration, of which only a fragment exists. Jefferson's clean, or "fair" copy, the "original Rough draught," is reviewed by the committee. Both documents are in the manuscript collections of the Library of Congress.
  • June 28

    A fair copy of the committee draft of the Declaration of Independence is read in Congress.
  • July 1-4

    Congress debates and revises the Declaration of Independence.
  • July 2

    Congress declares independence as the British fleet and army arrive at New York.
  • July 4

    Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence in the morning of a bright, sunny, but cool Philadelphia day. John Dunlap prints the Declaration of Independence. These prints are now called "Dunlap Broadsides." Twenty-four copies are known to exist, two of which are in the Library of Congress. One of these was Washington's personal copy.
  • July 5

    John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, dispatches the first of Dunlap's broadsides of the Declaration of Independence to the legislatures of New Jersey and Delaware.
  • July 6

    Pennsylvania Evening Post of July 6 prints the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence.
  • July 8

    The first public reading of the Declaration is in Philadelphia.
  • July 9

    Washington orders that the Declaration of Independence be read before the American army in New Yorkfrom his personal copy of the "Dunlap Broadside."
  • July 19

    Congress orders the Declaration of Independence engrossed (officially inscribed) and signed by members.
  • August 2

    Delegates begin to sign engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence. A large British reinforcement arrives at New York after being repelled at Charleston, S.C.


  • January 18

    Congress, now sitting in Baltimore, Maryland, orders that signed copies of the Declaration of Independence printed by Mary Katherine Goddard of Baltimore be sent to the states.