With hope of reconciliation fading away at the opening of 1776, in June, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, offered a resolution in the General Congress declaring all allegiance of the colonies to the British Crown, at an end.
With that offered resolution, the work began to sever the ties the bound the Colonies to the Crown.
A committee was formed to draft the declaration: Thomas Jefferson (of Virginia), John Adams (of Massachusetts), Benjamin Franklin (of Virginia), Roger Sherman (of Connecticut), and Robert R. Livingston (of New York).
The declaration was completed on 28 June and presented to the Congress. It laid on the table until 01 July. It was taken up by a committee of the whole and, after several amendments were made, nine States voted for Independence.
The Assemblies of Maryland and Pennsylvania refused their concurrence; but conventions from the states were recalled, majorities were obtained and, on the Fourth of July, votes from all the Colonies were counted, and the thirteen united Colonies were declared free and independent States.
The Declaration was signed that day, only by John Hancock, the President of the Congress, and with his name alone it was sent forth into the world.
On the morning of the adoption, the bell-man ascended the steeple with a little boy stationed at the door of the hall to give him notice when the vote was concluded. The old bell-man waited long in the bell tower saying 'They will never do it." Suddenly, a loud shout came from below, the little boy jumping and clapping yelling "Ring! Ring!" The bell-man grasped the iron tongue of the bell, hurling backward and forward 100 times, proclaiming "Liberty to the land and to the inhabitants thereof."
On the 2nd of August, the Declaration of Independence was signed by all but one of the 56 signers. That one was Matthew Thornton (of New Hampshire), who upon taking his seat in the congress in November, asked for and was granted the privilege of signing the document.
The signing of that instrument was a solemn act, and required great firmness and patriotism in those who committed it. It was treason against the home government, yet perfect allegiance to the law of right. It subjected those who signed it to the danger of ignominious death, yet it entitled them to profound reverence of a disenthralled people.