"Revolutionary America! 1763-1789 April 20-November 3, 2002

The Colonies Commit Treason

photo of exhibit section
In this photo:
1876 REPRODUCTION of the LAP DESK on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. This reproduction was created to honor the document's 100th anniversary.
  On loan from the collection of:
    --Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville VA
SAND SHAKER used on the original Declaration of Independence to dry and blot the wet ink, 1776
    --Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston MA
COSTUMES (reproductions) of the style worn by Thomas Jefferson and in the background a British Redcoat. Also a facsimile of the first draft of the Declaration penned by Jefferson
    --Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch IA


In order to receive financial help from other nations, the United Colonies needed to formally separate from England. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and THOMAS JEFFERSON prepared the resolution. The writing fell to Jefferson who struggled with several drafts, but then moved the argument to a higher level when he declared "all men are created equal."

The first draft was presented on June 28. Many revisions were negotiated, but the primary dispute over the freedom for slaves was deleted from the document … after the war and if a new nation truly formed, then a new government would address the issue. On July 4, 1776, the traitors signed the Declaration of Independence. The world would never again be the same.

Renaissance Man

Quietly idealistic, THOMAS JEFFERSON at 33 years old was a "Renaissance man" - scholar, lawyer, naturalist, inventor, architect, and violin player fluent in six languages.
Jefferson was convinced by John Adams to write the first draft. "Reason first - You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second - I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third - you can write ten times better than I can."


When Did it Happen? Sub-Sections
The Shot Heard Round the World
  Miniature Diorama
  George Washington, Commander in Chief
Common Sense
  Pamphlet, "Common Sense"
The Colonies Commit Treason (You are here)
  56 Traitors Who Signed the Declaration of Independence


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