Declaration of Independence

  • Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

In the summer of 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft a statement of independence for the 13 colonies. Jefferson drafted the document, and after several revisions, it was adopted by the Congress on the afternoon of July 4, 1776.

In exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed in the Declaration the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people, summarizing a philosophy of “self-evident truths” and listing grievances against the King that justified to the world the colonists’ decision to break ties with their mother country.

Today, the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and is celebrated each year on July 4th, a national holiday that is considered America’s birthday.The original signed Declaration is safeguarded for the American people by the National Archives and is seen by more than 1 million people each year in the Archives’ Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

Download a high-resolution version of this document from the National Archives’ Online Public Access Database.

Past Featured Records
  • 50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs
    50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Project Blue Book, the National Archives will display records from the Air Force’s unidentified flying objects (UFOs)  investigations.

    Report of a “flying saucer” over U.S. airspace in 1947 caused a wave of “UFO hysteria” and sparked... Read more

  • 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
    50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

    Visit the National Archives to see exclusive, featured documents from the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. From transcripts to flight plans, the museum will highlight some of the most important pieces of the monumental occasion. Documents will be on display through August 7, 2019 in the Rotunda... Read more

  • 75th Anniversary of D-Day
    75th Anniversary of D-Day

    On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen. The historic D-day invasion of Normandy, France, was a turning point in World War II, but it was just the initial assault in a massive operation that liberated Western Europe... Read more

  • Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”
    Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”

    Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in Congress when she took office in January of 1969. During her seven Congressional terms, “Fighting Shirley” was an outspoken champion for racial and gender equality, and economic justice. To mark the 50th anniversary of Chisholm’s... Read more

  • Live from the Moon
    Live from the Moon

    Watch telecast footage of the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission, the first manned spacecraft to reach the Moon and safely return. This multimedia presentation features photos of the Moon’s surface taken from the spacecraft and an audio recording of the astronauts’ description of the lunar surface.

    On display... Read more