Creating the Declaration of Independence
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Thomas Jefferson. Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence, June-July 1776. Manuscript. Thomas Jefferson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.


Thomas Jefferson's rough draft is the core document for an exploration of the antecedents to some critical phrases and concepts in the Declaration of Independence. This critical document combines Jefferson's first draft and changes made by the congressional committee appointed to draft a declaration and then by the entire Congress. Jefferson drew on many English, Scottish, and American sources in drafting the Declaration of Independence. The antecedents displayed here are not meant to be a definitive or complete list, only important illustrative examples that were known to writers of the Declaration of Independence.