1776: A Timeline of Declaring Independence

June 7 – Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, receives Richard Henry Lee’s resolution urging Congress to declare independence.

June 11 – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston appointed to a committee to draft a declaration of independence. American army retreats to Lake Champlain from Canada.

June 12-27 – Jefferson, at the request of the committee, drafts a declaration, of which only a fragment exists. Jefferson’s clean, or “fair” copy, the “original Rough draught,” is reviewed by the committee. Both documents are in the manuscript collections of the Library of Congress.

June 28 – A fair copy of the committee draft of the Declaration of Independence is read in Congress.

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July 1-4 – Congress debates and revises the Declaration of Independence.

July 2 – Congress declares independence as the British fleet and army arrive at New York.

July 4 – Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence in the morning of a bright, sunny, but cool Philadelphia day. John Dunlap prints the Declaration of Independence. These prints are now called “Dunlap Broadsides.” Twenty-four copies are known to exist, two of which are in the Library of Congress. One of these was Washington’s personal copy.

July 5 – John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, dispatches the first of Dunlap’s Broadsides of the Declaration of Independence to the legislatures of New Jersey and Delaware.

July 6 – Pennsylvania Evening Post of July 6 prints the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence.

July 8 – The first public reading of the Declaration is in Philadelphia.

July 9 – Washington orders that the Declaration of Independence be read before the American army in New York

July 19 – Congress orders the Declaration of Independence engrossed (officially inscribed) and signed by members.

August 2 – Delegates begin to sign the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence. A large British reinforcement arrives at New York after being repelled at Charlestown, SC.

And the American Revolutionary War begins in earnest…

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