Draft of the Declaration of Independence
About This Text
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Composed: c.1776 CE
The first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson in early 1776. As support for full separation from Britain gained steam, Congress created the “Committee of Five” consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, and commissioned them to draft an announcement and justification of a decision to leave the British Empire. Jefferson wrote the initial draft alone and revised it based on comments from the other members of the Committee. The Committee submitted that revised draft for consideration to the full Congress on July 2, 1776. That draft was then debated and revised for two days, before the final version was approved on July 4. Jefferson saved his first draft for inclusion with his collected writings, feeling that it was important that future generations see what was altered in the final. Among the many noteworthy changes made in the final document is the removal of Jefferson’s condemnation of King George III for forcing slavery on the American colonies.