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Declaration of Independence which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28 in 1776 is one of the most cherished symbols of liberty of the nation as well as the most enduring monument of Jefferson. In unforgettable and exalted phrases, convictions are expressed in the heats and minds of people of America by Jefferson. It was not a new political philosophy of the Declaration, John Locke and Continental philosophers had already expressed its ideal of individual liberty. Whatever was done by Jefferson was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident truths" hence setting forth grievances against the King so that there was justification to the world over the break of ties between the colony and the mother country.
During the campaign of revising Congressional instructions, most of the Americans expressed their support for separation from Great Britain officially in whatever was state and local declaration of independence. Pauline Maier, who was a historian identified above ninety declarations that were presented in the entire thirteen colonies starting from April to July 1776. Such declaration took different forms Armitage, David (2007). Parts of them were formal, and were written instructions for Congress delegation, for example, April 12 Halifax Resolves, North Carolina turned to be the first colony to give authorization of voting for independence to its delegates. Bailyn, Bernard (1967). Some were legislative acts that finished British rule officially within individuals colonies. Most of the declarations were resolutions which were adopted at meetings of county or town that were offering support for independence. A small number were in the form of jury instructions. Many of such declarations are now obscure, since they are overshadowed by the declaration that was approved by Congress on July 4.
Congress passed a resolution on May 10, the resolution was promoted by Richard Henry lee and John Adams, which was calling on colonies without a government that is sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs to insists and adopt a new government, Becker, Carl (1922). This resolution was unanimously passed and even receive support by Pennsylvania's John Dickson who was by then the leader of anti-independence faction in Congress, who had a believe that this was not applicable in his colony.
Congress appointed a committee that was to draft a preamble which was to explain the purpose of the resolution. The preamble was written by John, and indicated that since King George rejected reconciliation and went on as far as hiring foreign mercenaries that was being used against the colonies, there was a need that exercising of whichever kind of authority under the said crown to be fully suppressed. The preamble was passed on May 15 by Congress after several days of debate, Boyd, Julian P (1976). Adams considered his preamble as an effective American declaration of independence; however he had in his mind that a formal declaration would still have to be made.
During the time of adopting Adams's radical May 15 preamble by the Continental Congress, delegates of Marylands walked out and sent for instruction from Maryland Convention. Maryland Convention rejected Adams's preamble on May 20, giving instruction to its delegates to go on to oppose independence, however, Samuel Chase went to Maryland and gave thanks to local resolution in favor of independence, and he managed to change the mind of Maryland Convection on June 28. On June 30, as British forces approached, Provincial Congress evacuated New York and did not convene again until July 10. The meaning of these was that delegates of New York were not to be authorized to declare independence up to the time when the Congress had come up with its decision.
During the time when political maneuvering was still setting the stage for a formal declaration of independence, a document which was to give explanation to the decision was being written, Ferling, John E. (2003). A committee of five was appointed on June 11, 1776, by Congress, which was made up of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franking of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston to draft a declaration. Due to the fact that the committee left no minutes, some uncertainty existed over the way the drafting process should go on, its account was written several years later by Adams and Jefferson, though it was cited frequently, they tend to be contradictory and not reliable, Boyd, Julian P. Ed. (1950)
After discussion of the general outline that is supposed to be followed by the document, the committee decided that Jefferson was to write the first draft. Jefferson in particular and the committee in general, had a thought that Adams was to write the document, however Adams persuaded the committee to select Jefferson and gave a promise of consulting with Jefferson personally, Wills, Garry (1978). Due to commitment of Congress, probably Jefferson had a short time for writing over the following seventeen days, and more probably wrote the draft quickly. After writing he consulted with the others while making some changes and came up with another copy which incorporated such alterations. On June 28, 1776, the committee presented this copy to the Congress. This document had a title of "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United State of America in General Congress assembled." Boyd, Julian P (1945). An order was given by the Congress to lie the draft on the table.
After tabling the draft of the declaration on Monday, July 1, Congress turn itself into a committee of the whole which was being presided by Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, the committee resumed debate on Lee's resolution of independence. Final effort was made by John Dickson in trying to delay the decision giving argument that Congress is not suppose to declare independence without securing a foreign alliance and finalizing the Article of Confederation first. There was a reply speech by John Adams to Dickson that was restating the case for an immediate declaration.
A vote was taken after along day speeches. Normally, every colony casts one vote; the delegation for every colony, having two to seven members, cast vote among them in determining the vote of the colony. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against declaring of independence. Delegation of New York abstained because they lacked permission to vote. No vote was casted by Delaware since there was a division between George Read and Thomas MckKean. The rest of the nine delegations voted in support for independence. This showed that the resolution had been approved by the committee as a whole. The step that was to follow was that the resolution was to be voted by the Congress. The vote was moved to be postponed until the next day by Edward Rutledge of South Carolina who was against the declaration of independence.
South Carolina changed its stand in July 2 and voted for independence. Within the Pennsylvania delegation, Robert Morris and Dickson abstained paving way for voting three-to-two in favor of independence. This tie in the Delaware delegation was broken when timely Caesar arrived and voted in favor of independence. The delegation of New York abstained again for they were still not authorized to vote for independence. The independence' resolution had been adopted through twelve affirmative votes and abstention.
After the end of voting in favor of the resolution of independence, Congress diverted their focus on committee draft of the declaration. There was many days of debate and Congress made some changes in terms of wording and deleted almost a fourth of the text, particularly, a passage critical of the slave trade. Reaching July 4, 1776, the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved and then sent to the printer for the purpose of publication, Dupont, Christian Y. And Peter S. Onuf, Eds, (2010).
Even though Congress adopted the declaration that was presented by the committee of five, the task of the committee was not yet over. A directive was given by the Congress that the committee was supposed to supervise the printing of the document that was adopted. Initial printed Declaration of Independence copies were turned out from John Dunlap's shop, which was the official printer to the congress. After adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the manuscript document was taken to Dunlap by the committee, which was probably fair copy of Jefferson, rough draft, Ritz, Wilfred J., (1992)
July 5, in the morning, dispatching was done by the Congress to various, conventions, assemblies, committees and to the commander of Continental troops. Moreover, on July 5, insertion of the printed version of the approved Declaration of Independence was done into the rough journal of the Continental Congress. It is not clear the number of copies which were printed by Dunlap on the busy night of July 4, but 21 of them were owned by American institutions, 3 by private owners and 2 by British institution.
The Engrossed Declaration
On July 9, the New York Convention approved officially the action of Congress. The entire 13 colonies had by then signified their approval. Therefore, July 19, Congress now had the power to order that the…[continue]
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