The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents in the history of the United States. It marked an official step taken by the American colonies toward independence from British rule under the monarchy of King George III.

Many colonists were unhappy with laws that collected taxes but did not give them a say in government. The Stamp Act of 1765, for example, collected taxes on items made of paper such as legal documents, newspapers, and even playing cards. The Townshend Acts of 1767 were a series of acts that involved taxing the colonies to raise revenue for Great Britain. The Boston Tea Party in 1773, when men boarded a ship full of British tea and dumped it into Boston Harbor, was a protest against taxation.

During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), delegates to the Second Continental Congress met in the summer of 1776 to discuss independence from Great Britain. On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, a statesman from Virginia, proposed a motion specifically calling for the Congress to declare independence. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman were then instructed to draft a resolution.