Humanities › History & Culture Brief History of the Declaration of Independence "...that all men are created equal, ..." Share Flipboard Email Print The Road to American Independence Introduction A ‘New World’ Discovered The First New World Voyage of Christopher Columbus La Navidad: First European Settlement in the Americas The Second Voyage of Christopher Columbus Exploration After Columbus The Man Who Named America The American Indian Slave Trade Check Your Knowledge: A 'New World' Discovered Early Settlement of America The Virginia Colony Essential Facts About Jamestown The Mayflower Compact The Plymouth Colony Check Your Knowledge: Early Settlement The Original 13 British Colonies The Early American Colonial Regions Characteristics of New England Colonies Governments of the Original Thirteen Colonies The Original 13 US States Quick Chart of the Thirteen Original Colonies Check Your Knowledge: Original 13 Colonies Dissent Turns to Revolution The Root Causes of the American Revolution The Albany Plan of Union The Boston Massacre Currency Act of 1764 The Stamp Act of 1765 Who Were the Sons of Liberty? The Boston Tea Party The Intolerable Acts Check Your Knowledge: Dissent Turns to Revolution The American Revolution Begins The Battles of Lexington and Concord The Siege of Boston Battle of Yorktown The Treaty of Paris 1783 America's Top Founding Fathers The Declaration of Independence Check Your Knowledge: American Revolution Begins Independence Hall National Park. Rdsmith4 By Robert Longley History and Government Expert B.S., Texas A&M University Robert Longley is a U.S. government and history expert with over 30 years of experience in municipal government and urban planning. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Robert Longley Updated July 02, 2019 Since April 1775, loosely organized groups of American colonists had been fighting British soldiers in an attempt to secure their rights as loyal British subjects. By the summer of 1776, however, a majority of Americans were pushing – and fighting for -- full independence from Britain. In reality, the Revolutionary War had already begun with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Siege of Boston in 1775. The American Continental Congress turned a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin to pen a formal statement of the colonists’ expectation and demands to be sent to King George III. In Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." -- The Declaration of Independence. The following is a brief chronicle of events leading up to the official adoption of the Declaration of Independence. May 1775 The Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia. John Hanson is elected "President of the United States in Congress assembled.” A "petition for redress of grievances," sent to King George III of England by the First Continental Congress in 1774, remains unanswered. June - July 1775 Congress establishes the Continental Army, a first national monetary currency and a post office to serve the "United Colonies." August 1775 King George declares his American subjects to be "engaged in open and avowed rebellion" against the Crown. The English Parliament passes the American Prohibitory Act, declaring all American sea-going vessels and their cargo the property of England. January 1776 Colonists by the thousands buy copies of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," stating the cause of American independence. March 1776 Congress passes the Privateering (piracy) Resolution, allowing colonists to arm vessels in order to "cruize [sic] on the enemies of these United Colonies." April 6, 1776 American seaports were opened to trade and cargo from other nations for the first time. May 1776 Germany, through a treaty negotiated with King George, agrees to hire mercenary soldiers to help put down any potential uprising by American colonists. May 10, 1776 Congress passes the "Resolution for the Formation of Local Governments," allowing colonists to establish their own local governments. Eight colonies agreed to support American independence. May 15, 1776 The Virginia Convention passes a resolution that "the delegates appointed to represent this colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent states." June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee, Virginia's delegate to the Continental Congress, presents the Lee Resolution reading in part: "Resolved: 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 Congress postpones consideration of the Lee Resolution and appoints the "Committee of Five" to draft a final statement declaring the case for America's independence. The Committee of Five is composed of: John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. July 2, 1776 By the votes of 12 of the 13 colonies, with New York not voting, Congress adopts the Lee Resolutions and begins consideration of the Declaration of Independence, written by the Committee of Five. July 4, 1776 Late in the afternoon, church bells ring out over Philadelphia heralding the final adoption of the Declaration of Independence. August 2, 1776 The delegates of the Continental Congress sign the clearly printed or "engrossed" version of the Declaration. Today Faded but still legible, the Declaration of Independence, along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, is enshrined for public display in the rotunda of the National Archives and Records Building in Washington, D.C. The priceless documents are stored in an underground vault at night and are constantly monitored for any degradation in their condition.