Declaration of Independence Timeline

June 7, 1776
Richard Henry Lee of VA puts forth the resolution for independence.

June 10, 1776
Consideration of the resolution is postponed till July 1 (so moderates could build a coalition)

June 11, 1776
Revolutionaries persuade Congress to appoint a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee consisted of John Adams (MA), Benjamin Franklin (PA), Thomas Jefferson (VA), Roger Sherman (CT), and Robert R. Livingston (NY). Jefferson takes the lead on the project. Adams and Franklin make a few edits. Jefferson’s rough draft is in the Library of Congress.

July 1, 1776
Vote on the resolution for independence. Nine colonies vote for it, 2 against it (PA and SC), 1 abstained (NY), and one was deadlocked (DE). Vote to be retaken the next day.

July 2, 1776
12 of the 13 colonies vote for the resolution, with NY abstaining. Congress declares the resolution to be in effect.

July 2-4, 1776
Congress debates the content of the Declaration of Independence.

July 4, 1776
Congress approves the Declaration of Independence and orders it printed. Philadelphia printer John Dunlap prints about 200 copies. Fewer than 30 survive today.

July 6, 1777
The Declaration of Independence appears in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, the first newspaper printing of the newly adopted document.

July 8, 1776
Colonel John Nixon reads the Declaration of Independence to a crowd on the State House Yard (now known as Independence Square). This is the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

July 19, 1776
Congress orders the Declaration engrossed for signatures. Title is changed from “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled” to “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.”

August 2, 1776
Declaration signed by (most likely) 50 of the 56 signers. Five more sign later in 1776. Thomas McKean, the 56th signer, signs sometime after January 1777. There is only one handwritten, signed Declaration of Independence. It is on display in the National Archives in Washington D.C.

January 18, 1777
Congress authorizes the printing of the Declaration with the names of the signers (first time names of signers are printed.

Last updated: February 18, 2023

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