Declaration of Independence

  • Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

In the summer of 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft a statement of independence for the 13 colonies. Jefferson drafted the document, and after several revisions, it was adopted by the Congress on the afternoon of July 4, 1776.

In exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed in the Declaration the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people, summarizing a philosophy of “self-evident truths” and listing grievances against the King that justified to the world the colonists’ decision to break ties with their mother country.

Today, the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and is celebrated each year on July 4th, a national holiday that is considered America’s birthday.The original signed Declaration is safeguarded for the American people by the National Archives and is seen by more than 1 million people each year in the Archives’ Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

Download a high-resolution version of this document from the National Archives’ Online Public Access Database.

Past Featured Records
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    Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but a century ago nearly all soda bottles looked the same. To distinguish its product... Read more

  • Japanese Instrument of Surrender, 1945
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    On September 2, 1945, representatives from the Japanese government and Allied forces assembled aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which effectively ended World War II.

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  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    Voting Rights Act of 1965

    On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, a momentous achievement in the struggle for equal rights.

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  • 1774 Articles of Association
    1774 Articles of Association

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  • Sketch of the RMS Lusitania’s Lifeboat Storage Mechanism
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    On May 1, 1915, when the RMS Lusitania departed New York, it was carrying a decent amount of passengers, despite the announcement from the German Embassy printed in newspapers on April 23 warning Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so... Read more