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
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,
was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon
committees and in conversation . . . that he soon
seized upon my heart.”
June 4, 1776
British Commodore Sir Peter Parker, Henry
and reinforcements approach the
Charleston, South Carolina.
June 7, 1776
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 &
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.
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.
June 9, 1776
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 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.
June 28, 1776
Led by Peter Parker, the British
bombard Fort Sullivan
but fail to take the fort. They head to New York.
receives Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten
Declaration of Independence on June 28, 1776 and
tables it for future discussion.
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.”