On June 11, in 1776, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, named a five-member committee to draft a declaration of independence from Britain. Its members were Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert Livingston of New York
Adams suggested that Jefferson write the first draft. Adams and Franklin edited it and then gave their work to Congress on June 28 for review. It began:
“When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.”
Congress set the draft aside to debate a resolution that Richard Henry Lee had introduced on June 7. His motion called on Congress to declare independence, form foreign alliances and prepare a plan of colonial confederation.
Lee’s proposal read: “Resolved that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
source – Politico