Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence (1776) - document listing American colonial grievances against Britain was drafted by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), John Adams (1735-1826), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Roger Sherman (1721-1793), and Robert R. Livingston (1746-1813) and signed by John Hancock (1737-1793) on July 4, 1776 at the Second Continental Congress. Most of the other 55 delegates, from all thirteen colonies, signed it on August 2, 1774. With elegance and clarity, the document described the natural rights of all people, listed the "injuries and usurpations" inflicted by the King and Parliament on the people of the American colonies, and declared that, due to the failure of the King and Parliament to promote the rights of its American subjects, the thirteen colonies officially declared themselves "free and independent states." In the eyes of Britain, this amounted to an act of treason, and all the signers of the document would have been in danger of a torturous execution if they had lost the war that backed up the assertions of the Declaration.