June 11th, 1776 Thomas Jefferson and The Committee of Five
Many delegates were not allowed to cast their vote in favor of independence in the early development ages. This was because the authorization from the states was yet to be issued. Meanwhile, five men were given the responsibility of drafting an official declaration. It was hoped that the States would back the Declaration, and it would be sent to England.
The five men responsible for the declaration were brought together in “Committee of Five” on June 11th, 1776, and the Committee performed their duty till July 5th of the same year. The Committee consisted of these men.
- Roger Sherman – Connecticut
- Robert Livington – New York
- Thomas Jefferson – Virginia
- Benjamin Franklin – Pennsylvania
- John Adams – Massachusetts
On June 28th, 1776, this Committee was the first to present the document in front of Congress.
Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence
Jefferson was not the first choice of the delegates as they were pushing for Richard Henry Lee to be the one to pen down the Declaration of Independence, but circumstances said otherwise. Lee was made to be part of the Committee of Confederation and write the Articles of Confederation.
Lee was not added to the Committee of five because it was thought that the stress would be too much. However, Lee had to abandon everything and returned home to cater to his severely ill wife during the convention of Philadelphia.
Thomas Jefferson replaced Lee as he had shown promising results in delegating from Virginia. No one knew Jefferson was going to become an influential person so quickly and make his way to the pages of American history.
To most people’s surprise, Jefferson was not interested in writing the declaration and was favoring John Adams to do it. Adam has mentioned this in a letter he wrote to Timothy Pickering, who was a good friend of Adams from Massachusetts and a politician.
Jefferson proposed to me to make the draft. I said, ‘I will not,’ ‘You should do it.’ ‘Oh! No.’ ‘Why will you not? You ought to do it.’ ‘I will not.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Reasons enough.’ ‘What can be your reasons?’ ‘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.’ ‘Well,’ said Jefferson, ‘if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.’ ‘Very well. When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting.’
Eventually, in 17 days, Jefferson penned the “Declaration of Independence” while considering the Committee’s advice. Hence, Jefferson got his name into the books of history forever.