Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Image courtesy the National Archives

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  • On July 4, 1776, the United States declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now called the United Kingdom). At the time, there were more than two dozen British colonies in North America, stretching from the Caribbean to the Canadian Arctic. Thirteen of these colonies rebelled: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

    The Declaration of Independence has become a globally recognized document of self-governance and the fundamental rights of human beings. Thomas Jefferson wrote the groundbreaking second sentence, now familiar to democratic movements worldwide:

    “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.”

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    dozen Noun

    a group of 12.

    fundamental Adjective

    basic or primary.

    governance Noun

    system of government or political management.

    independence Noun

    state or situation of being free.

    kingdom Noun

    type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.

    Encyclopedic Entry: kingdom