Declaration of Independence

(1776)

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson’s amended draft of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The initial effort by the framers of the American system of government was not to separate from Great Britain but to be accepted by Great Britain as an equal partner—to be given the rights and responsibilities of full British citizenship. Early efforts to secure such acceptance met with contempt and refusal. By 1776 the Founding Fathers were forced to make a choice: subservience or revolution.

Concluding that independence was their only option,...

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The Declaration of Independence (National Archives and Records Administration)

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