U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
 www.archives.gov April 19, 2014 

Creating the Declaration of Independence - A Time Line

June 7, 1776
Lee Resolution

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, read a resolution before the Continental Congress "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Lee Resolution Document


June 11, 1776
Committee of Five Appointed

Consideration of the Lee Resolution was postponed-- the "Committee of Five" was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence.


June 11
July 1, 1776
Declaration of Independence Drafted

On June 11, Congress recessed for three weeks. During this period the "Committee of Five" (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson) drafted the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson drafted it, Adams and Franklin made changes to it. Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776.

(Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee-Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman. Copy of engraving after Alonzo Chappel. (NWDNS-30-N-31(170)


July 2, 1776
Lee Resolution Adopted & Consideration of Declaration

On July 2, the Lee resolution was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies (New York did not vote). Immediately afterward, Congress began to consider the Declaration. Congress made some alterations and deletions to it on July 2, 3, and the morning of the 4th.

More Information in the American Originals Exhibit


July 4, 1776
Declaration of Independence Adopted and Printed

Late in the morning of July 4, the Declaration was officially adopted, and the "Committee of Five" took the manuscript copy of the document to John Dunlap, official printer to the Congress.

Printed Declaration of Independence


July 5, 1776
Copies of the Declaration Dispatched

On the morning of the July 5, copies printed by John Dunlap were dispatched by members of Congress to various committees, assemblies, and to the commanders of the Continental troops.

(On July 9, the action of Congress was officially approved by the NY Convention.)


July 19, 1776
Congress Orders the Declaration Engrossed on Parchment

Congress ordered that the Declaration be "fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and stile {sic} of ‘The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America’ and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress."


August 2, 1776
Declaration Signed

The document was signed by most of the members on August 2. George Wythe signed on August 27. On September 4, Richard Henry Lee, Elbridge Gerry, and Oliver Wilcott signed. Matthew Thornton signed on November 19, and Thomas McKean signed in 1781.

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