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Doc of the Day: Declaration of Independence


On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s amended draft of the Declaration of Independence, a document declaring independence from Great Britain, was presented to the Continental Congress for a vote. Although the initial effort by the framers of the American system of government was not to separate from Great Britain, by 1776 they were forced to make a choice: subservience or revolution. Concluding that independence was their only option, they felt, as men of the Enlightenment, in the Age of Reason, that they were bound by honor to declare to the world the reasons for their radical act. The Continental Congress thus selected a committee of five men to draft a statement calling for independence. That committee—consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman—surprisingly chose the thirty-four-year-old Virginian Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft of what would become the Declaration of Independence. These men could hardly have imagined the full impact their handiwork would have, for in modern times the Declaration of Independence is one of the most read and honored documents produced by the revolutionaries of that age. It is a document that has had a profound impact not only on that revolutionary generation but also on future generations.

Read the full text of the Declaration of Independence

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Listen to the NPR reporters read the Declaration of Independence

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