The Second Continental Congress met again in June 1776. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution. This resolution said that all political ties between the colonies and Britain were ended.
The Congress did not pass this resolution, not in June. They wanted to move forward carefully. But they did set up a committee to write a Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson was given the job of writing the Declaration by the committee. Thomas Jefferson wrote the original Declaration in just four days. He reworked it a bit over the next two weeks. When he was done, he gave a copy to Ben Franklin and John Adams to read and edit before the next meeting of Congress, which they did.
On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted again on Lee's resolution. This time it passed.
Two days later, July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
In the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson explained that when a government does not protect the rights of its citizens it loses its right to govern. The Declaration also listed the reasons for breaking away from Britain and then declared the colonies to be independent states.
Only two people signed the Declaration on July 4th - John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson as secretary. 500 copies of the Declaration were printed and distributed. One copy was sent to King George.
It was not until Aug 2, 1776, that 56 men, including John Hancock, signed a fresh copy of the Declaration of Independence. This is the document displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 26 were lawyers. The American Revolution was not fought over the issue of paying taxes. It was fought in part over a question of law, that being who had the authority to impose taxes - Britain or the colonial government.
To colonial leaders, taxation without representation was one of the major causes of the American Revolution. Restriction of free trade and restriction of free speech were also very important considerations.
The words "United States" are not in the Declaration. Those words were not used until the Continental Congress wrote the Article of Confederation.