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Common Read: 2021-2022 Our Declaration: The Declaration & Related Documents

Related Documents

Second Treatise of Government by John Locke

Most scholars today believe that Jefferson derived the most famous ideas in the Declaration of Independence from the writings of English philosopher John Locke. Locke wrote his Second Treatise of Government in 1689 at the time of England's Glorious Revolution, which overthrew the rule of James II.

Locke wrote that all individuals are equal in the sense that they are born with certain "inalienable" natural rights. That is, rights that are God-given and can never be taken or even given away. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are "life, liberty, and property."

English Bill of Rights, 1689

Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental CongressOctober 14, 1774

Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up ArmsJune 26-July 6, 1775

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Published in 1776, Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.

Full-text version of Common Sense.

The Lee Resolution

Acting under the instruction of the Virginia Convention in the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution proposing independence from England for the American colonies.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights by George Mason

Virginia's Declaration of Rights was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights. Written by George Mason, it was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776.

Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia in a Letter to a Noble Lord, &c. by Thomas Hutchinson, former Governor of Massachusetts

London, 1776

The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence by Jack N. Rakove

Here in a newly annotated edition are the two founding documents of the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence (1776), our great revolutionary manifesto, and the Constitution (1787–88), in which “We the People” forged a new nation and built the framework for our federal republic. Together with the Bill of Rights and the Civil War amendments, these documents constitute what James Madison called our “political scriptures” and have come to define us as a people.

The Sussex Declaration

Housed at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, United Kingdom, and uncovered by the Declaration Resources Project in August, 2015, the Sussex Declaration is the only known parchment manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence apart from the engrossed and signed parchment in the National Archives.

Sussex Declaration parchment photograph from The London Economic

Philadelphia Stone Engravings

Podcasts U.S. Historical Documents. Declaration of Independence. [Read aloud] (9 minutes)

15 Minute History. Episode 14: Early Drafts of the Declaration of Independence. February 27, 2013 (20 minutes)

The Declaration of Independence is arguably one of the most recognizable documents in American history, quoted and recited often. But the first draft that Thomas Jefferson wrote contained passages that were edited and deleted by the Continental Congress before its approval. What did they say? What might have been different about the early Republic if they were left in? And is there really a treasure map hidden on the back of the original document?

Guest Robert Olwell from UT’s Department of History takes a deeper look to get insight into Jefferson, the workings of the Congress, and the psyche of the American colonists on the eve of revolution—plus, we’ll put that whole treasure map thing to rest once and for all.