The declaration of the United States
July 2—4, 1776.
The resolution of congress changed the old thir-
Chap LXX.} 1776. July 2-4.
teen British colonies into free and independent states.
It remained to set forth the reason for this act, and the principles which the new people would own as their guides.
Of the committee appointed for that duty, Thomas Jefferson
had received the largest number of votes, and was in that manner singled out to draft the confession of faith of the rising empire.
He owed this distinction to respect for the colony which he represented, to the consummate ability of the state papers which he had already written, and to that general favor which follows merit, modesty, and a sweet disposition; but the quality which specially fitted him for the task was the sympathetic character of his nature, by which he was able with instinctive perception to read the soul of the nation, and having collected in himself its best thoughts and noblest feelings, to give them out in clear and bold