June 7, 1776 Lee Resolution Richard Henry Lee of Virginia
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
June 11, 1776 3 committees formed 3 committees formed to draft a declaration of independence to draft a declaration of independence to draw up a plan "for forming foreign alliances" to draw up a plan "for forming foreign alliances" to "prepare and digest the form of a confederation." to "prepare and digest the form of a confederation."
Adams v. Jefferson Jefferson thought Adams should write the document, But Adams explained why Jefferson should write it. “Reason first, you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can.“ "Well," said Jefferson, "if you are decided, I will do as well as I can." "Very well. When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting."
June 11- July 1, 1776 Declaration of Independence Drafted
June 30, 1776 A motion for Independence is made A motion for Independence is made 9 colonies vote for Independence 9 colonies vote for Independence South Carolina and Pennsylvania vote against South Carolina and Pennsylvania vote against New York abstained New York abstained Delaware split their vote Delaware split their vote - - Thomas McKean in favor, George Read against, Caesar Rodney was not present THE VOTE NEEDS TO BE UNANIMOUS! THE VOTE NEEDS TO BE UNANIMOUS!
July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence Adopted and Printed
The Declaration states: We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Did Jefferson really believe that all men are created equal?
Deleted from the original draft He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce:
Deleted from the original draft and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another
Jefferson was given the task of declaring independence and explaining the colonies justification for their actions. Why did he add the Preamble?
Letter to Roger C. Weightman Thomas Jefferson June 24, 1826 May it be to the world what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self government. That form which we have substituted restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man.
Letter to Roger C. Weightman Thomas Jefferson June 24, 1826 The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born,with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them....
Jefferson borrows heavily from the writings of John Locke and other political theorists. Was Jefferson a plagiarist?
Letter to Henry Lee from Thomas Jefferson May 8, 1825 “...with respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American Whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.”
Letter to Henry Lee from Thomas Jefferson May 8, 1825 “Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c....”