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Creating the Declaration: A Timeline

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."

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.

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 & 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.