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The Declaration of Independence

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Jefferson’s "original rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence, page 1.

Jefferson’s "original rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence, page 1.
Library of Congress

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Declaration of Independence engraved by William Stone, 1823.

Declaration of Independence engraved by William Stone, 1823.

Library of Congress

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In 1825, Jefferson gave this desk to Joseph Coolidge, husband of his granddaughter Ellen Randolph Coolidge. The Coolidge family presented it to the United States in 1880. Ellen Coolidge used this desk as a replacement for one she had lost in a shipwreck—a prized desk...

Jefferson’s portable desk on which he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
National Museum of American History

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The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, 1818. Jefferson helped Trumbull with the composition of the painting through his recollections of the day.

The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, 1818.

Office of the Architect of the United States Capitol

 

In the Declaration, Jefferson eloquently announced the creation of the new American nation. He presented Americans as a self-governing people committed to the principles of liberty and equality in the face of British tyranny. “All men are created equal,” Jefferson wrote, and the importance of this ideal necessitated that “a people … advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained” in order to “institute new government.” The founders’ vision did not include one-fifth of the American population: enslaved men, women, and children who labored in nearly every one of the “Free and Independent States.”

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Visit the Declaration of Independence section at monticello.org to learn more.

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