The Signers Committee Appointed

Committee Appointed

June 11- 28, 1776

A Committee of Five (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman) was appointed by the Continental Congress to draft a declaration that would explain why the colonies were asserting their independence from Great Britain. . Known for his writing abilities, Jefferson was assigned the task of drawing up a draft for the committee. Secluded in his quarters on the second floor of a new brick house on the southwest corner of Seventh and Market Streets, he set up a portable writing box of his own design and went to work.

To justify the break with Great Britain, Jefferson drew upon the political philosophy that energized the Enlightenment and, more specifically, the recently published Virginia Declaration of Rights, authored by his fellow Virginian, George Mason. The draft portayed an assault by an aggressive and corrupt oppressor on the rights of an innocent people. Following the famous preamble, Jefferson set forth a long list of grievances against George III.

Precisely how long he took to compose the document is unknown, but by June 28 Jefferson had a rough draft. Before submitting it to the committee, Jefferson shared it with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, who made suggestions. Afterwards, the manuscript was presented to Congress and underwent a series of amendments in what Jefferson characterized as the “depredations” of his fellow delegates.

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