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A biography of thomas jefferson the principal author of the declaration of independence

Despite Jefferson's desire to return to Virginia to help write that state's constitution, the Continental Congress appointed him to the five-person committee for drafting a declaration of independence.

That committee subsequently assigned him the task of producing a draft document for its consideration. Drawing on documents, such as the Virginia Declaration of Rights, state and local calls for independence, and his own draft of a Virginia constitution, Jefferson wrote a stunning statement of the colonists' right to rebel against the British government and establish their own based on the premise that all men are created equal and have the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Through the many revisions made by Jefferson, the committee, and then by Congress, Jefferson retained his prominent role in writing the defining document of the American Revolution and, indeed, of the United States. Jefferson was critical of changes to the document, particularly the removal of a long paragraph that attributed responsibility of the slave trade to British King George III. Jefferson was justly proud of his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and skillfully defended his authorship of this hallowed document.

Although considered too radical by the Virginia Convention, Jefferson's instructions were published by his friends in Williamsburg. His ideas and smooth, eloquent language contributed to his selection as draftsman of the Declaration of Independence.

This manuscript copy contains additional sections and lacks others present in the published version, A Summary View of the Rights of British America. Instructions to Virginia's Delegates, 1774. Manuscript Division 39 Bookmark this item: The resolves are a clear statement of constitutional rights considered to be fundamental to Britain's American colonies.

The Resolves call for a halt to trade with Great Britain, including an end to the importation of slaves. Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to include in the Declaration of Independence a condemnation of British support of the slave trade.

George Mason and George Washington. Fairfax County Resolves, 1774.

The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson

Manuscript Division 40 Bookmark this item: It is one of the documents heavily relied on by Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Virginia Declaration of Rights can be seen as the fountain from which flowed the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

The document exhibited here is Mason's first draft to which Thomas Ludwell Lee added several clauses.

  1. Indeed, many historians regard it as the boldest executive action in American history.
  2. During his five-year sojourn in Paris, Jefferson accomplished very little in any official sense.
  3. Then, in 1784, recognizing the need to escape the memories of Martha that haunted the hallways at Monticello, he agreed to replace Franklin as American minister to France; or, as legend tells the story, he agreed to succeed Franklin, noting that no one could replace him. Manuscript Division 45 Bookmark this item.

Even a cursory examination of Mason's and Jefferson's declarations reveal the commonality of language and principle. George Mason and Thomas Ludwell Lee. Draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776. Manuscript Division 41 Bookmark this item: Jefferson's drafts are not only important for their influence on the Virginia government, they are direct predecessors of the Declaration of Independence. Draft of Virginia Constitution, 1776. Manuscript Division 45 Bookmark this item: Draft fragment of the Declaration of Independence, 1776, Manuscript.

Manuscript Division 48 Bookmark this item: At a later date perhaps in the nineteenth century, Jefferson indicated in the margins some but not all of the corrections suggested by Adams and Franklin. Late in life Jefferson endorsed this document: Draft of Declaration of Independence, 1776.

Manuscript Division 49 Bookmark this item: The three-story brick house is pictured here in Harper's Weekly, April 7, 1883.

Writing of Declaration of Independence

Jefferson rented the entire second floor for himself and his household staff. Harper's Weekly, April 7, 1883. Reproduction of journal page. Prints and Photographs Division 43 Bookmark this item: Jefferson is the tall person depositing the Declaration of Independence on the table.

  1. Manuscript Division 41 Bookmark this item.
  2. He was a shy and extremely serious young man.
  3. Even a cursory examination of Mason's and Jefferson's declarations reveal the commonality of language and principle. This accurately describes the longest section of the Declaration of Independence , which lists the grievances against George III.
  4. They were, in effect, inventing a modern form of political behaviour before there was any neutral vocabulary for talking about it. But he then placed both daughters in a convent, wrote them stern lecturelike letters about proper female etiquette, and enforced a patriarchal distance that was in practice completely at odds with his theoretical commitment to intimacy.
  5. Jefferson had written it in the fall of 1781 and had agreed to a French edition only after learning that an unauthorized version was already in press.

Benjamin Franklin sits to his right. John Hancock 1737โ€”1793 sits behind the table. Livingston 1746โ€”1813 stand left to right behind Jefferson. Congress Voting the Declaration of Independence, c.

Including the Autobiography, The Declaration of Independence & His Public and Private Letters

Copyprint of oil on canvas, Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania 53 Bookmark this item: Currier and Ives prepared this imagined scene for the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration Committee, New York, 1876. Prints and Photographs Division 56 Bookmark this item: Enlarge [In Congress, July 4, 1776.

John Dunlap, July 4, 1776]. Broadside with broken at lines 34 and 54 with text below line 54 missing. Manuscript Division 51 Bookmark this item: Charles Willson Peale painted this northwest view of the state house and its sheds in 1778. The building was ornamented by two clocks and a steeple, which was removed shortly after the British left Philadelphia in 1778.

James Trenchard after a painting by Charles Willson Peale. Jefferson would have seen Philadelphia, as depicted, when he visited Annapolis, Philadelphia, and New York in 1766.

The Philadelphia skyline had not dramatically changed when Jefferson returned in 1775. George Heap under the direction of Nicholas Scull, surveyor general of Pennsylvania. Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, 1768. Copyprint of map and engraving.

Prints and Photographs Division 6 Bookmark this item: McRae after Johnannes A. Published by Joseph Laing, [ca.

Prints and Photographs Division 52 Bookmark this item: Prints and Photographs Division 57 Bookmark this item: Manuscript Division 50 Bookmark this item: It is wonderful, and passing pitiful, that the rage of change should be so unhappily applied. However the Thing is in its nature so good, that no Cookery can spoil the Dish for the palates of Freemen. Manuscript Division 54 Bookmark this item: It was made late in Jefferson's second presidential administration.

Jefferson gave it to Joseph Coolidge, Jr. In giving it, Jefferson wrote on November 18, 1825: These, gaining strength with time, may, one day give imaginary value to this relic, for it's association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence. Portable writing desk, Philadelphia, 1776. It was probably made by William Cowan 1779โ€”1831a Richmond watchmaker. Probably by William Cowan.

Silver pen, Richmond, Virginia, c. Lord Kames Henry Home.

Thomas Jefferson

Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion. This is Jefferson's personal copy which was sold to Congress in 1815. Tiebout used the bust portrait of Rembrandt Peale and created an imaginary full-body, because no standing portrait of Jefferson had been painted. President of the United States, Philadelphia, 1801. Prints and Photographs Division 95 Bookmark this item: