Revolution 240 banner, picture of woman and girl by Ken Schultz

Celebrating 240 years since 1776, adapted in part from Stories of Faith & Courage from the Revolutionary War (AMG)

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June 1776

Common Sense gives way to the Declaration of Independence

From one Thomas to another:
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense about independence will soon give way to a declaration. In June 1776 the youthful Thomas Jefferson and other Virginia delegates arrive in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress. 

“Writings of his [ Jefferson’s] were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression,” John Adams later recounts. “Though a silent member in Congress, Jefferson was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees and in conversation . . . that he soon seized upon my heart.” 

British approach South Carolina

June 4, 1776
British Commodore Sir Peter Parker, Henry Clinton, and reinforcements approach the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

A map of the colonies

June 7, 1776
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces a resolution in the Continental Congress to declare independence. Jefferson notes, “The delegates from Virginia moved in obedience to instructions from their constituents that the Congress should declare that these united colonies . . . be free & independent states.” 

Some members agree while others argue that the colonies are not ready to unite around independence. Congress postpones voting on Lee's motion but appoints three committees: one to draft a declaration of independence, one to draft a treaty with France, and one to draft a new constitution.

John Adams later reflects on selecting Thomas Jefferson to draft the declaration of Independence. Jefferson brings “a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent for composition.” 

“You inquire why so young a man as Mr. Jefferson was placed at the head of the committee for preparing a Declaration of Independence? I answer: It was the Frankfort advice [referring to an earlier meeting of colonial leaders in Frankfort, New York], to place Virginia at the head of everything,” Adams later reflects.

Martha Washington

June 9, 1776
Martha Washington’s son Jack learns that his mother survived the smallpox vaccination and writes to her:

“The receipt of your kind letter . . . gave me the sincerest pleasure to hear you were in so fair a way of getting favorably through the smallpox.”

Martha had long feared getting the smallpox vaccination but did so in 1776 so she could stay with her husband, George Washington, in camp with his army.

Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams--a Brain Trust

Late June
Thomas Jefferson meets with Franklin and Adams.

“Before I reported it to the committee, I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams, requesting their corrections, because they were the two members of whose judgments and amendments I wished most to have the benefit,” Thomas Jefferson later reflects on the days leading up to the Continental Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence. John Adams praised Jefferson’s style, “I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded” and Jefferson’s desire to include a clause abolishing slavery. 

Fort Moultrie

June 28, 1776
Led by Peter Parker, the British bombard Fort Sullivan in Charleston but fail to take the fort. They head to New York.

Congress receives Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten Declaration of Independence on June 28, 1776 and tables it for future discussion.

Gen. Howe and Adm. Howe enter New York

June 29, 1776
Brothers British General William Howe and Admiral Richard Howe arrive in New York harbor. Howe proclaims:

“Flushed with the idea of superiority after the evacuation of Boston, the Americans desire decisive action. Nothing is more sought for by us.”

Celebrating 240 years since 1776, adapted in part from Stories of Faith & Courage from the Revolutionary War (AMG)

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune  |  JulyAugustSeptember  |  October  |  November  |  December

Jane Hampton Cook's TV segments relating to the American Revolution

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