All factual information below is taken from http://www.monticello.org. To learn more please visit their website.
My husband andI recently visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, along with my parents. Monticello is located in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Monticello was built beginning in 1769 in the Roman Neoclassicism style and was finished in 1809.
Jefferson, at 33 years old, was the youngest member of congress when the Second Continental Congress met beginning in May of 1776. The purpose of the meeting was to draft up a statement explaining why the colonies wanted independence.
Jefferson was very quiet in the Congress but was selected to draft the declaration because according to Adams he “can write ten times better than I can”. Jefferson spent about 2 and a half weeks working on the draft of the declaration. Franklin and Adams requested only a few small changes and the draft was given to the Congress on June 28, 1776. However, delegates from South Carolina andGeorgia would not sign it because of the language against slavery. There were also delegates from New England who would not sign because their merchants had profited from the slave trade. Congress debated the issue, and all language about slavery was taken out.
From late Tuesday July 2 through Thursday July 4th, Congress made changes in Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration. Jefferson’s text was cut by about a fourth. Congress also included the words of Lee’s Resolution “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.” On July 4th delegates from twelve colonies voted for the written declaration.
That day, in the late afternoon, Congress approved the written Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, president of Congress, signed it, making the document “legal and binding.” On August 2nd, it was signed by the members of Congress, including Thomas Jefferson.
Page 1 of Jefferson’s rough draft.
As we left Monticello that day we were able to walk by the cemetery where Thomas Jefferson was buried. I had never known that Thomas Jefferson actually died on July 4th, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence!
Teachers: Monticello offers a wonderful FREE resource for teachers and students. Visit http://classroom.monticello.org for more information!
Happy Fourth of July!