Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents
June 7, 1776 to January 18, 1777
Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, receives Richard Henry Lee's resolution urging Congress to declare independence.
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.
At the request of the committee, Jefferson drafts a declaration that is the basic text of his “original Rough draught.” Jefferson’s draft—now in the manuscript collections of the Library of Congress—is reviewed by the committee before being submitted to the Congress.
A fair copy of the committee draft of the Declaration of Independence is read in Congress.
Congress debates and revises the Declaration of Independence.
Congress declares independence as the British fleet and army arrive at New York.
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.
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.
Pennsylvania Evening Post of July 6 prints the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence.
The first public reading of the Declaration is in Philadelphia.
Washington orders that the Declaration of Independence be read before the American army in New York from his personal copy of the "Dunlap Broadside."
Congress orders the Declaration of Independence engrossed (officially inscribed) and signed by members.
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.
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.