“THE CHARACTER OF A FINE WRITER” 309
Jeerson likely began writing the draf o the Declaration on Wednesday or Tursday, June 12 or 13. Accustomed to rising early, he probably worked inthe relative coolness o early morning. He may also have taken up his penagain in the evening, when the tra c beneath his windows aded and an oc-casional night breeze stirred. It is conceivable too that he skipped some ses-sions o Congress and worked through the day. Lee, with Wythe in tow, hadlef or home, but our other members o Virginia’s delegation were present,aording Jeerson the luxury o staying away i he chose to do so.Only two things are known or certain about Jeerson’s work on the draf:He wrote it while seated in a revolving Windsor chair with a small, oldingwriting desk placed across his lap, both o which had been custom-made orhim by a Philadelphia cabinetmaker.
And he delivered the draf quickly.Adams later recalled that only “a day or two” was required or Jeerson tocomplete the task.
While Adams may not have meant or his comment tobe taken literally, Jeerson was ordinarily a rapid writer.On a “Friday morn” Jeerson sent a copy o the draf to Franklin—he ad-dressed it to “Doctr. Franklyn”—and asked that he “suggest such alterationsas his more enlarged view o the subject will dictate.” By then, Jeerson hadalready shown Adams what he had written.
Tus, in all probability Jeer-son completed his draf within three to ve days and gave it to Adams some-time between Monday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 19. Jeerson probably transmitted the draf document to Franklin on Friday, June 21.Years later Adams, consumed with jealousy at the laurels Jeerson hadreaped as the author o the Declaration o Independence, carped that the
document was “a juvenile declamation” that merely rehashed what othershad said. Tere was “not an idea in it, but what had been hackneyed in Con-gress or two years beore.” But Adams had orgotten that neither he nor hiscolleagues on the committee or in Congress wanted Jeerson to write some-thing novel. It would have been ludicrous to have done so. Jeerson correctly understood, as he put it years later, that his task was to avoid “aiming atoriginality o principle or sentiment.” He was to prepare a draf that capturedthe “tone and spirit” o “the American mind” toward the mother country’simperial policies and the king’s decision to make war on them. Along thesesame lines the document had to make clear why Congress, which had repeat-edly insisted that it was not bent on independence, was indeed declaring in-
dependence. Within these parameters, Jeerson subsequently said, he merely
sought to avoid copying “rom any particular and previous writing.”
As the draf sprang rom Jeerson’s pen, it became clear that the Declara-tion o Independence was to be more than simply a justication o revolution.
It need not have been. Te English Declaration o Rights, with which Jeerson