The greatest breakup/screw you letter ever written.So badass, in fact, that it was a treasonable act, punishable by death to have your name on it. But 56 daring souls did. Respected ones at that. Finished with the British empire, the King, a laundry list of other problems the crown gave them, they rocked the world and all of history with a beautifully written pink slip.
The letter basically said, "King George, piss off." It listed reasons. Lots of them. But it doubled down with one hell of an opener - that the King's authority over them didn't really even exist. The divinely-bestowed power over so-called "subjects" that he and all other kings across the world and throughout time hung their crowns upon was nothing but lame fairy tales, and America was having none of it anymore.
It was sort of a big deal. The beginning of the end for monarchies in the West. The beginning of something pretty extraordinary for individuals worldwide it turns out.
This incredible document is celebrated every year on July 4th here in the States. That's when the so-called Committee of Five got the okay to send the letter to the printer John Dunlap in 1776. The Five's job was to draft the document to be approved by the Continental Congress. When Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin finished, they were to have 200 copies sent throughout America. (Only 26 copies survive to this day, they're known as the “Dunlap Broadsides”.)
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
One of the Committee of Five members, Robert Livingston, pussed out and refused to sign it. The New Yorker thought it was too soon to break off from the British empire. (He eventually came around, though, and was the guy who swore in America's 1st President, George Washington, in 1789.)
Two other members of the Committee of Five, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams became Presidents in the newly formed republic. They also both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence.
The American colonies only had a population of around 2.5 million citizens in 1776. This is roughly the population of present-day Chicago, which had about 2.6 million in 2021.
Philosopher John Locke’s ideas were a huge influence on the Declaration of Independence. Especially Locke’s social contract theory of government. Locke's contract theory said that the authority of any government is ultimately derived from the consent of the people.
A major misconception about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed on July 4, 1776. In fact, independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, a date that John Adams believed would be “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776.