To gain an understanding of the founding of America, it is essential to understand the fundamental truth that serves as the foundation of our belief system. A foundation oriented around liberty and equality based on the tradition of natural rights. 

The most famous natural right material comes from John Locke in his Second Treatise. The Second Treatise outlines a theory of civil society and places sovereignty into the hands of the people. For Locke, the law of nature is grounded on mutual security, or the idea that one cannot infringe on another’s natural rights, as every man is equal and has the same inalienable rights given at birth, simply for the sake of being human.

 These natural rights include perfect equality and freedom and the right to preserve life and property. Locke believed such fundamental rights could not be surrendered. Government laws can’t reverse universal moral principles among all cultures and societies, and for this reason, natural rights are often called inalienable rights — rights that cannot be taken away. Natural rights are the basis of a social contract in society. These rights would still exist even if the government ceased to exist. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.” 

Following the French and Indian War, Britain wanted to control the expansion into the western territories, and tensions began to rise between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the British Crown.Throughout the winter of 1775 through 1776, members of the Continental Congress came to view reconciliation with Britain as unlikely and believed independence would be the only course of action possible. On December 22, 1775, the British Parliament prohibited trade with the colonies to force total reliability on Britain for imported goods and supplies.  The colonies had no banks and very little money, so colonists were forced to barter and use credit to get the necessary things. 

This would lead to June 7, 1776; Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion in Congress to declare independence from Britain. Although all members of Congress did not feel this was necessarily the next step,  Congress did form a committee to draft a declaration of independence and assigned this duty to Thomas Jefferson. 

Drafting the Declaration of Independence became the defining event in Thomas Jefferson’s life. The Continental Congress appointed Jefferson to the five-person committee for drafting a declaration of independence. The committee subsequently assigned him the task of producing a draft document for its consideration. Jefferson was said to have drawn on documents, such as the Virginia Declaration of Rights, state and local calls for independence, and his draft of a Virginia constitution. As a result, Jefferson wrote a stunning statement of the colonists’ right to rebel against the British government and establish their own based on the premise that all men are created equal and have the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.The Declaration contained three sections: A general statement of natural rights theory and the purpose of government: a list of grievances against the British King: the Declaration of Independ-ence from England. Franklin and Adams edited Jefferson’s draft, and the final document was presented to Congress about two weeks later.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from England. Congress made several changes to Jefferson’s draft, including removing references condemning slavery. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed it that day. The rest of the Congress signed two months later. By signing their names to the document, the signers coura
geously pledged to each other their “lives … fortunes … and sacred honor.”

The surviving fragment of John Dunlap's initial printing of the Declaration of Independence was sent to George Washington by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress on July 6, 1776. General Washington had the Declaration read to his assembled troops in New York on July 9. Later that night, the Americans destroyed a bronze statue of Great Britain's King George III, which stood at the foot of Broadway on the Bowling Green.

The signing of our Declaration of Independence was the beginning of the considerable amount of blood, sweat, and tears that would be poured into the founding of the greatest nation in the world.