In August 1775, following hostilities between the colonists and British troops in Massachusetts, King George III declared the American colonies in rebellion. The declaration prompted Congress to assemble a Continental Army under General George Washington. Ten months later, in June 1776, Richard Henry Lee proposed a Congressional resolution calling for independence from Great Britain.
As the independence movement gained momentum, Congress convened a five-member committee to write a formal public statement to justify its declaration of independence. Committee members included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson authored the first draft, and after making a few suggested changes, a second draft was submitted to Congress on 28 June 1776. Congress debated the proposed resolution on 1 July. Two states opposed the resolution, two more signaled indecision, and New York abstained. Delaware broke the tie vote the next day, and the two states…
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