The Declaration of Independence is considered the first true step to the American colonies freedom from the Crown. Thomas Jefferson drafted and penned this document at the behest of the first Continental Congress. He drew from many philosophical sources as well as his own ideals to complete it.
The birth of the Declaration
On June 7th 1776, Richard Henry Lee brought forth a resolution, to make a declaration of independence from the Crown. It was debated heavily and decided to be recommitted at a later date. However, it was allowed for a committee to discuss the best approach for such a document.
A short time later on June 11th, the draft committee for the declaration was chosen. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, were the five members from across the colonies chosen for this. All five were involved in the drafting of the document, but Thomas Jefferson had the largest influence over the grievances.
Seventeen days later, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was read before the Congress. It was read and argued over the course of four days, July 1st-4th. Beginning with the full acceptance of the Lee Resolution, of a total break off of all allegiance to the Crown and great Britain.
What it entails
The extensive list of grievances that is tacked onto the official ending of allegiances, only helps to embolden the reasons of separation. Including, but not limited to, taxation without representation, keeping a standing army without legislative consent, and blockades.
The act of taxation was not opposed, but not being afforded representation in Parliament was no small affront to the colonists. This also encompassed the requirements that criminals be tried in England, rather than in the American Colonies. Perpetuating the ill tensions that the American colonies were incapable of self-governing under the laws of the Crown.
During this time it was felt that a standing army was an act of aggression towards the colonists. Particularly so during the times leading up to the revolution of America. If for no other reason than it consisted of British soldiers, and all was instituted strictly against the will of the colonies law structures.
The blockades were an ongoing grievance with the American Colonies and Great Britain. The forceful requirements of only buying British sold goods and placing taxes on these goods, was instrumental in the Boston Tea Party. Which further widened the divide that led to total trade cuts from the blockades.
Despite popular belief it was another month at minimum before most of the delegates had signed the declaration. There were three delegates who never signed the document, John Dickinson, Robert Livingston, and Thomas Lynch. The latter delegates did not sign for whatever reason plagued them, but not because of outward dissent. John Dickinson was the only delegate to refuse completely, as he felt it was much too hastily done. It took another twenty-two years to finish the hasty act, but it is cemented in the annals of history.