LC: John S. Bailey Library - Office of Dean of Junior College & General Studies Program
CM: The United States Declaration of Independence was an act of the Second Continental Congress, adopted on 4 July 1776, which declared that the 13 Colonies were independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The document, formally titled The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, written chiefly by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), explained the justifications for secession from the British crown, and was an expansion of the Lee Resolution, passed by Congress on 2 July, which first proclaimed independence. An engrossed copy of the Declaration was signed by most of the delegates on 2 August and is now on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress, meeting in Independence Hall in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776.
The Declaration of Independence is considered to be a preceding founding document of the later formed United States of America, where 4 July is celebrated as Independence Day. At the time the Declaration was issued, the American colonies were 'united' in declaring their independence from Great Britain, but were not yet declaring themselves to be a single nation. That union would evolve and take shape during the next few years after the Declaration was issued. The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence outlines a general philosophy of government that justifies revolution when government harms natural rights. "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." This version of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence was beautifully illuminated by calligrapher Joseph R. Rosen. Rosen had established in 1913 the oldest calligraphy studio in the United States. Now the J.R. Rosen Studio is still active at 29 Beale Street, Quincy, Massachusetts.