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The Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer under British rule.Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America.

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The term "Declaration of Independence" is not used in the document itself.John Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version.The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.The next day, July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America." But the national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed.Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies.

Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive.This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms.It was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public.The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson's hand.