Letter of June 24, 1826, from Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, declining to attend the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the District of Columbia

Jefferson's letter to Weightman is considered one of the sublime exaltations of individual and national liberty -- Jefferson's vision of the Declaration of Independence and the American nation as signals to the world of the blessings of self-government. This was the last letter written by Jefferson, who died ten days later, on July 4, 1826. Coincidentally, John Adams, another great defender of liberty, died on the same day.

Holograph. Page 1. Page 2. Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (1).

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Fragment of the earliest known draft of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776

This is the first public exhibit of the only surviving fragment of the earliest known draft of the Declaration of Independence. This fragment demonstrates that Jefferson heavily edited his first draft of the Declaration before he prepared a clean, or "fair" copy that became the basis of the "original Rough draught." Jefferson clearly wrote this composition draft of the Declaration on the top half of sheets of paper thus allowing space for notes. None of the deleted words and passages in this fragment appears in the "original Rough draught," but all of the undeleted 148 words including those carreted and interlined were copied into the "original Rough draught" in a clear form.

The historical significance of this fragment was recognized in 1947 by Julian P. Boyd, who was preparing an edition of Jefferson's papers. The writing on the bottom half of the sheet is Jefferson's draft of a resolution on the resignation of General John Sullivan, July 26, 1776.

Holograph. Page 1. Page 2. Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (2)

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Jefferson's "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence, written in June 1776, including all the changes made later by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other members of the committee, and by Congress

The "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence, one of the great milestones in American history, shows the evolution of the text from the initial composition draft by Jefferson to the final text adopted by Congress on the morning of July 4, 1776. Jefferson himself indicated some of the alterations made by Adams and Franklin.

Late in life Jefferson endorsed this document: "Independance. Declaration of original Rough draught."

Holograph. Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, and Page 4 with minor emendations in the hands of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (3)

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Fragment of George Washington's personal copy of the "Dunlap Broadside" of the Declaration of Independence, which he ordered read to his assembled troops in New York, July 9, 1776

Fragment of the "Dunlap Broadside" of the Declaration of Independence, sent on July 6 to George Washington by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. General Washington had the Declaration read to his assembled troops in New York on July 9. Later that night, the Americans destroyed a bronze statue of Great Britain's King George III which stood at the foot of Broadway on the Bowling Green. The text is broken at lines thirty-four and fifty-four, with the text below line fifty-four missing.

Broadside. [In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration By the Representatives of the United States of America, In General Congress Assembled.] [Philadelphia: John Dunlap, July 4, 1776.] Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (4)

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A "Dunlap Broadside," one of only twenty-four known surviving copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, done by John Dunlap in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776

One of twenty-four surviving copies of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence done by Philadelphia printer John Dunlap in the evening of July 4. These rare documents are known as "Dunlap Broadsides" of the Declaration of Independence.

Broadside. In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration By the Representatives of the United States of America, In General Congress Assembled. Philadelphia: John Dunlap, July 4, 1776. Broadside Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (5)

A contemporaneous print representing the destruction of the statue of King George III in New York City following the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the American army, July 9, 1776

The destruction of the statue of King George III at the foot of Broadway on the Bowling Green occurred on the night of July 9 after the American army had heard the reading of the Declaration of Independence. (The tail of the horse is in the New York Historical Museum.)

La Destruction de la Statue royale a Nouvelle Yorck/Die Zerstorung der Koniglichen Bild Saule zu New Yorck. By Andre Basset. Paris: Chez Basset, 177-. Hand-colored engraving. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (6) LC-USZC4-1476 (color) and LC-USZ62-22023 (b&w)

A contemporaneous print representing the committee of five delegates, chaired by Thomas Jefferson, that was appointed to prepare a declaration of independence. They are shown submitting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress, June 28, 1776

Edward Savage's engraving, based on Robert Edge Pine's painting of the presentation of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress, is considered one of the most realistic renditions of this historic event. Jefferson is the tall person depositing the Declaration of Independence on the table. Benjamin Franklin sits to his right. John Hancock sits behind the table. Fellow committee members, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston stand (left to right) behind Jefferson.

Engraving (unfinished). Congress Voting the Declaration of Independence. By Edward Savage after a painting by Robert Edge Pine, c. 1776. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (7) LC-USZ62-6078-A (b&w)

An 1876 print representing the "Declaration Committee," chaired by Thomas Jefferson, which was charged in June 1776 with drafting a declaration of independence for action by the Continental Congress

The "Declaration Committee," which included Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and John Adams of Massachusetts, was appointed by Congress on June 11, 1776, to draft a declaration in anticipation of an expected vote in favor of American independence, which occurred on July 2. Currier and Ives prepared this imagined scene of the writing of the Declaration for the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Lithograph. The Declaration Committee. By Currier and Ives. New York, 1876. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (8) LC-USZ62-820 (b&w)

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