Signed by representatives from 13 states on 4th July 1776 the declaration was a statement adopted by the Second Congressional Congress and the first step toward forming an independence United States.
The declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by the Committee of Five headed by John Adams before being further refined by Congress. It was first printed and disseminated by John Dunlap in Philadelphia and then sent across America. A copy reached the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army George Washington who read it to his troops on the 9th July.
The engrossed version of the Declaration with its signatures was requested by Congress in 1777 and it is this copy that resides on display in the National Archives. By 1820 the document was already showing some wear so an engraving was made and it is this engraved image which is now the mostly widely known image and that pictured here.
Author(s): Thomas Jefferson et al.
Date taken: July 4, 1776
Location signed: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA