Summer. June of 1776 to be precise. Thomas Jefferson rented a small house at the corners of 7th and Market St. in Philadelphia. Jefferson, along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Robert Sherman set out on the task of drafting what would become one of our nation’s greatest achievements; the Declaration of Independence.
This five-part document, mostly penned by Jefferson officially declared the original thirteen American colonies independent of Great Britain. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” solidified this document as one of the most important documents in regards to Human Rights. 
There are many well-known things about July 4th/Independence Day. Barbecues, parades, concerts and sporting events are all festivities we take part in to celebrate one of our most important holidays but there are many things that are not as well-known about it as well.
One of the more fascinating particulars happening during the drafting and adoption was the relationship between two future Presidents. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a tumultuous relationship at times. Their class upbringing (Adams, the son of a farmer. Jefferson, the son of an upper class slave owner) often causing rifts and disagreements. Adams’ reelection campaign in 1800 was downright dirty at times with Adams portrayed as tyrannical with intentions on enslaving citizens and Jefferson as a closed-minded, uncompromising man, verging on being a heretic. The two eventually made amends and interestingly enough and strangely fitting, both Presidents died a matter of hours apart…on July 4th, 1826, the Declaration’s 50th anniversary. 
The signing of the Declaration of Independence was not only a declaration that the American colonies were separating and seceding from British authority but it, according to British law was an act of treason.  The document was an open accusation of corruption, illegal taxation and tyranny. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other out Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”. The 56 men who signed this document did so with the full knowledge that they were committing treason against Britain and King George III. Almost half of the signatories and/or their families were indeed tracked down by British troops and tortured and killed or had there property and homes destroyed. 
Many people may think that the Declaration was a unanimously signed document but that is not the case at all. The document was met with opposition from several members of the Continental Congress at the time. John Jay, Robert Duane and John Dickinson, to name just a few, refused to sign. Even one of the members of the drafting committee (Robert Livingston) refused to sign. Livingston believed that it was too soon to declare independence. Some members of Congress, such as Robert Morris, Carter Braxton, and Edward Rutledge signed the document despite opposing it. They, and a few others, believed that signing the document showed a unified Congress to King George III. 
While many people associate July 4th with the signing of the Declaration, that’s not accurate. Independence from Britain was declared on July 2nd, 1776 , while the actual signing took place on August 2nd, 1776. July 4th was the date that the Continental Congress approved the document’s final draft. 
- “A Brief History of Human Rights”. humanrights.com. Retrieved 2014-6-14
- “Adams’s Friend (and Rival)”. America’s Story from America’s Library. Retrieved 2014-6-14
- “High Treason”. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2014-6-14
- “When Did It Happen? The Colonies Commit Treason”. HooverArchives.org. Retrieved 2014-6-14
- “This Day In History: August 2nd, 1776 – Delegates sign Declaration of Independence”. History.com. Retrieved 2014-6-14
- “Did You Know…Independence Day Should Actually Be July 2?”. National Archives archives.com. Retrieved 2014-6-14