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Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in the history of the United States. It was written and adopted a little over a year after the American Revolution began. It is a declaration of democratic principles rather than a framework for government, but it has had immeasurable influence on people and governments throughout the world for over 200 years.

In the summer of 1776, representatives of the thirteen colonies gathered in Philadelphia. One important member was James Wilson, whom all the founding fathers looked up to as one of the most knowledgeable men on the intricacies of government. Wilson was vehemently opposed to being governed by British Parliament. In 1774, he wrote "Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament", a document that greatly influenced the men of the Continental Congress.  

On June 11, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence from Britain and its ruler, King George III. This committee consisted of Thomas JeffersonBenjamin FranklinJohn AdamsRobert Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson was selected to write the first draft of the declaration, which he did in one day.