Thomas Jefferson’s notes on drafting the Declaration of Independence. June 1776
Jefferson labored more than two weeks drafting the Declaration of Independence to justify and explain to the world America’s reasons for renouncing British rule. In these notes sent to James Madison, Jefferson uses language that appeared in the final version of the Declaration, enumerating the abuses of liberty by King George III that provoked the separation.
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
In June 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed five delegates—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson—to compose a declaration of the American colonies’ unanimous decision to sever their ties with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, an eloquent writer well versed in key political thought, drafted the text, which Adams and Franklin edited. Congress voted for independence on July 2, and after further modifications approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.