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The Declaration of Independence
Transcript of The Declaration of Independence
of Independence The Second Continental Congress Thomas Paine and Common Sense Writing the Declaration of Independence Celebration! Patriot leaders who met in 1775 to discuss three issues. In January 1776, Thomas Paine published a booklet called Common Sense arguing that people should rule themselves instead of being ruled by a king. In June 1776, men from Virginia asked Congress to vote on the following statement: "these United Colonies are, and by right ought to be, free and independent States." The Declaration was passed and signed on July 4th, 1776, which is why we celebrate the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day! Issue # 1. Organize the colonies for war against the British. Issue # 2. Choose a leader for the new Army. Issue # 3. Decide whether to declare independence from Britain. The Battle of Lexington and Concord
British soldiers fought with members of the Patriot militia. The colonies' small militias were made up of ordinary men, not soldiers. Congress decided to create the Continental Army. George Washington was an experienced soldier and a strong leader. Some of the delegates were ready to claim their independence, but many were still loyal to King George. John Adams was a Patriot who was ready for America to be independent. From "Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession"
"The nearer any government approaches to a republic, the less business there is for a king. It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England. Sir William Meredith calls it a republic; but in its present state it is unworthy of the name . . ." http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume6/dec07/primsource.cfm From "Thoughts of the present state of American Affairs"
"Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs; but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge." http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume6/dec07/primsource.cfm From "Of the Present Ability of America, with some miscellaneous Reflections"
"I have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between the countries, would take place one time or other. And there is no instance in which we have shown less judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independence." http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume6/dec07/primsource.cfm Common Sense was written in words Colonists could understand. Within a short amount of time, everyone was reading it, and by the spring of 1776, most people wanted the Continental Congress to vote for independence. While Congress agreed to think about the statement, they asked a committee to write a document explaining why the colonies wanted to be independent. The three members of the committee were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was an excellent writer, so the other men asked him to write the first draft of the letter of independence. After a few changes were made, the letter was presented to Congress. Signing the
Declaration of Independence The delegates in Congress argued for several days whether the colonies should be independent from Britain. On July 2, 1776 they voted to separate from Britain, then they spent two days editing the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson had written. After the Continental Congress approved the document, it was prepared for them to sign. Signing the declaration was considered treason toward the king (an act punishable by death) . The president of the Congress, John Hancock, told the delegates they must stay united and "all hang together" to which Benjamin Franklin replied, "Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." John Hancock was the first to sign the Declaration, and he signed in bold letters. When people heard the news they celebrated, and crowds cheered when the Declaration was read to the public on July 8th. Bower, Bert, and Jim Lobdell. History Alive!: America's Past. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2001. Print.
Chapter 12, pages 124-128 Source