Who Wrote The First Draft of The Declaration of Independence?


Who Wrote The First Draft of The Declaration of Independence?

It was Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Along with four other members, the Second Continental Congress appointed him to a committee of five people for writing the Declaration on the 11th of June 1776.

Thomas Jefferson’s other four associate members were:

  • John Adams (Massachusetts)
  • Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania)
  • Robert R Livingston (New York)
  • Roger Sherman (Connecticut)

By the way, Jefferson was from the colony of Virginia.

Who Wrote The First Draft of The Declaration of Independence
Source: Wikimedia

Due to Congress’s busy schedule, Jefferson was given only 17 days to complete the job.

Therefore, discussing with the other four members about the document’s general outlines, he soon started writing the first draft.

After completing the job, he presented it to the committee.

However, later, they had to make some extensive changes to the document. They made around 86 extensive changes in the first draft.

Completing the review and changes, he then wrote a better copy for presenting in front of Congress.

Some of the important changes made in the manifesto were as follows:

1. In the first draft, Jefferson criticized the British Parliament and King George III for encouraging the slave trade through the Atlantic ocean. They had to remove it because they didn’t want to make colonists Slaveholders disgruntled. They were well aware that this could have weakened the Revolutionary War.

2. Committee simplified Jefferson’s line – “Preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness” to a more beautiful one “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Of course, we know that this one is the most popular line in the historical document.

Who Wrote The First Draft of The Declaration of Independence

Other Important And Interesting Points Related To The First Draft

1. In starting when the committee selected Thomas Jefferson for writing the first draft, he felt quite nervous. He even thought, John Adams should do the job. However, Adams later calmed him down with some drinks and persuaded him for the job.

2. Did you know? Jefferson produced the first draft in a rented room, near the State House, Philadelphia.

The house owner was Jacob Graff, who was then a well-known bricklayer. Jeff rented the entire second floor for himself and his staff members. 

3. John Hancock was the first delegate, who signed the Declaration because he was then the president of the Continental Congress.

4. Did you know? Thomas Jefferson was a little unhappy because the Continental Congress and the Committee made 86 extensive changes in his writing of the first draft. 

5. Thomas Jefferson was only 33 years old when he drafted the historical Declaration of Independence.

6. Although, Jefferson added the issue of slavery in his first draft; but later, it was removed in order to appease Southern states of the 13 colonies (such as Georgia, South Carolina, etc).

7. Did you know? Jefferson wrote the Declaration two times before the committee submitted it to the Continental Congress.

8. Committee and Congress selected Jefferson for writing the document in case he was an amazing writer and he had less opposition in the Second Continental Congress.

Especially, he started gaining attention in 1774 after publishing his “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”.

9. Did you know? most of the philosophies Jefferson added in his first draft borrowed from the philosophies of Renaissance philosophers; such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau.

For example life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the birth of governments or states, etc.


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