The Declaration of Independence
If the delegates were going to take this big risk, they wanted to make it worthwhile. And it would be worthwhile if they could help create a free nation, a great nation, a republic run by its citizenssomething that had never before been done. So they thought it important to explain exactly why it was necessary to be free of English rule. That's why they asked Virginia's Thomas Jefferson to write a declaration. Adams later remembered: "Jefferson proposed to me to make the draft. I said, 'I will not. You can write ten times better than I can' ."
And so it was the shy young Thomas Jefferson who would compose the central document of American freedom. Sitting at a portable writing desk he himself had designed, Jefferson worked on the second floor of a brick house in Philadelphia and wrote and rewrote until he had it the way he wanted it, and then the delegates made a few changes and it was done . Adams was right. Thomas Jefferson knew just what to say, and he said it in a way that inspired people all over the world. Listen again to the Declaration's central words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."