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Primary Documents in American History

Lee Resolution (1776)

Portrait of Richard Henry Lee.
[Richard Henry Lee, head-and-shoulders portrait, left profile]
Peale, Charles Willson, 1741-1827, artist
[published between 1890 and 1940]
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-92331 (b&w film copy neg.)

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed independence for the American colonies by introducing this resolution in the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776. On July 2, 1776, Congress passed the Lee Resolution, concerning which John Adams wrote, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival...with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations..."

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed independence for the American colonies by introducing this resolution in the Second Continental Congress.

On June 11, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were appointed to a committee to draft a declaration of independence.

On June 28, A fair copy of the committee draft of the Declaration of Independence was read in Congress.

On July 1-4, Congress debated and revised the Declaration of Independence.

On July 2, Congress declared independence by adopting the Lee Resolution.

George Washington Papers

Includes his General Orders for July 9, 1776 announcing the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Army in New York. Also contains Washington's printed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Search this collection to find additional documents related to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

Contains Thomas Jefferson's notes on debates in the Continental Congress from 1776, including Jefferson's copy of the Declaration of Independence as amended by Congress.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

Includes Jefferson's Notes on Debates and Proceedings on Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, Continental Congress, June 7, 1776. A transcription of the Notes on Debates and Proceedings can be found in Jefferson's Autobiography Draft Fragment, January 6 through July 27.

 

Exhibitions

American Treasures of the Library of Congress - Declaration of Independence

This online exhibition contains Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration, with emendations by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Also includes a fragment of an early draft of the document, a letter to Roger Weightman with Jefferson's reflections on the Declaration, Jefferson's draft of the Virginia Constitution, and an excerpt from Henry Home, Lord Kames' Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion regarding the pursuit of happiness.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress - Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights

George Mason, of Fairfax County, Virginia, wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, on which the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are partially modeled. Mason refused to support the original Constitution because it failed to protect essential liberties. This document was also used by the Marquis de Lafayette in drafting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

Creating the United States

This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. The exhibition includes a section on creating the Declaration of Independence.

Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents

This exhibition includes a timeline of events related to the Declaration and a detailed essay on the drafting of the documents. Also contains images of the Dunlap Broadside and a number of prints portraying the debating and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Today in History

April 12, 1776

The Provincial Congress of North Carolina authorized its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence.

July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence was enacted on July 4, 1776.

 

External Web Sites

Biography External Link of Richard Henry Lee from the Biographical Directory of the United States CongressExternal Link

America's Founding Documents: Declaration of Independence, National Archives and Records Administration

Encyclopedia Virginia External Link, contains entries on Richard Heny Lee External Link and the Lee Resolution External Link

Our Documents, Lee Resolution, National Archives and Records Administration

 

Selected Bibliography

Armitage, David. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007. [Catalog Record]

Boyd, Julian P. The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of the Text. Rev. ed. Charlottesville: International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello in association with the Library of Congress, 1999. [Catalog Record]

Burnett, Edward Cody. The Continental Congress. New York: Norton, 1941.[Catalog Record]

Chitwood, Oliver. Richard Henry Lee, Statesman of the Revolution. Morgantown: University Library, 1967. [Catalog Record]

Dupont, Christian Y., and Peter S. Onuf, eds. Declaring Independence: The Origin and Influence of America’s Founding Document. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Library, 2008. [Catalog Record]

Gerber, Scott Douglas, ed. The Declaration of Independence: Origins and Impact. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Hogeland, William. Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1-July 4, 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. [Catalog Record]

Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Knopf, 1997. [Catalog Record]

The Letters of Richard Henry Lee. Edited by James Ballagh. 1911-1914. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970; [Catalog Record]

 

Younger Readers

Freedman, Russell. Give Me Liberty!: The Story of the Declaration of Independence. New York: Holiday House, 2000. [Catalog Record]

Gragg, Rod. The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America’s Founding Document and the Men Who Created It. Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill Press, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Graves, Kerry A. The Declaration of Independence: the story behind our founding document. Philadelphia: Chelsea Clubhouse, 2004. [Catalog Record]

 

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  April 25, 2017
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