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Maps: Sites of Liberty

  Introduction | Boston | Philadelphia | District of Columbia


Map of Colonial Philadelphia Colonial delegates meet in Philadelphia, far to the south of Boston but closer to the colonies' geographical center. They plan to coordinate their response to British oppression. In the Continental Congress, John Adams emerges as a strong voice for liberty. Carpenters' Hall Pennsylvania State House Graff House Betsy Ross House

Carpenters' Hall
September-October 1774

First Continental Congress

Photograph of Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia.

Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia.
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Delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies gather in Philadelphia to unify their response to Britain. At their first meeting, in the city tavern, loyalist Joseph Galloway offers the Pennsylvania State House as a meeting place. The group chooses the simpler hall of The Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia.

Congress is in session for eight active weeks. John Adams plays a central role, drafting a Declaration of Rights and Grievances to send to the British.

My Time [in Philadelphia] is totally filled from the Moment I get out of bed, until I return to it.
-- John Adams, September 14, 1774

Read more on the Massachusetts Historical Society Web site.

Pennsylvania State House
May-July, September-December 1775

Second Continental Congress

Broadside of a declaration from the Second Continental Congress.

Congress explains why war is necessary.
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The Congress meets again after war has broken out with Britain. New faces include Thomas Jefferson from Virginia, John Hancock from Massachusetts, and Lyman Hall from Georgia -- representing the one absent colony from the first Congress. This time the group uses the more spacious Pennsylvania State House. They sign the Declaration of Independence at this site, now known as Independence Hall.

Our Business is more extensive, and complicated -- more affecting and hazardous. But our Unanimity will not be less. We have a Number of new and very ingenious Members...
-- John Adams, May 26, 1775

Read more on the Massachusetts Historical Society Web site.

Graff House
February-October 1776

Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.
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By 1776, the colonists are talking independence. In early June, delegates are chosen to draft a declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson does the writing in the house of local bricklayer, Jacob Graff, Jr., where he is living. Jefferson finishes his draft on June 28. The committee makes some changes then brings it to the Congress in early July.

Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence... in Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety and Inspection, in Town and County Meetings... so that the whole People... have now adopted it, as their own Act.
-- John Adams, July 3, 1776
Read more on the Massachusetts Historical Society Web site.

Betsy Ross House
June 14, 1777

Stars and Stripes

Allegorical drawing of America triumphant, with U.S. flag.

An image of America with the new flag.
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Congress commissions seamstress Betsy Ross to make a flag for the new nation. She will later tell the story of how George Washington visited her along with two other delegates. According to Ross, Washington had a sketch of a design for a flag with six-pointed stars, which Washington thought would be easier to make than stars with five points. Ross folded some paper and with one snip of a scissors, showed him how easily five stars could be made.

The Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.
-- Journals of the Continental Congress, June 14, 1777

Read more on the Massachusetts Historical Society Web site.

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