Jefferson delivers his “Rough Draught”

Jefferson delivers his “Rough Draught”

As we enter the Fourth of July week, I thought it would be interesting to tell the story of those dramatic days leading up to the colonies’ declaring independence in 1776. On this day, June 28 — a Friday in 1776 — Thomas Jefferson delivered his “Rough Draught” of the Declaration to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Jefferson had written the draft in an upstairs two-room apartment in a house owned by Jacob Graff — Jefferson slept in one room and wrote at a small wooden desk in a private parlor across the stairs that led to the first floor. When he submitted the draft to the Congress, there were numerous edits to the draft already made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, members of the “Committee of Five” who were charged with preparing a declaration when it became clear that the Congress was leaning in favor of full independency. Congress was meeting in secrecy in the Pennsylvania State house (later renamed Independence Hall). The delegates accepted the draft, tabled it, and agreed to begin debate on the issue of independence on July 1, Monday morning, and the declaration itself once the independence question was voted upon. Jefferson’s draft, one of the most remarkable and important documents in American History, is now in the Library of Congress.