VIDEO Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776

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The summer of 1776 was a harrowing time for the British colonies in America. Open warfare with the mother country had erupted a year earlier and the future was filled with political and military uncertainties.

The Committee presents its draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress

In this tense climate, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia with the intention of voting for independence from England. In anticipation of this vote, the Congress selected a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee, composed of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, in turn instructed Thomas Jefferson to write the declaration.

Jefferson began his work on June 11 and toiled in seclusion writing a number of drafts. After presenting his final draft, the committee further revised the document and submitted it to the Continental Congress on June 28. On July 2, the…

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