Who do you want writing your declaration of indepdence–the document which explains the “why” of your rebellion?
Well, you want a fellow with some degree of wisdom, and one who is good, even clever, with words. In 1776, several fellows at the congress in Philadelphia fit the bill. Five were given the job of writing the declaration. One was Benjamin Franklin– almost no one was as clever as he. Another was Thomas Jefferson– young and bookish, not a good speaker but a fine writer. John Adams was the third, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston rounded out the committee.
Old Ben Franklin was suffering from gout, so he was happy to let young Jefferson do the writing. How much Adams helped is unclear. Apparently, Jefferson showed Adams and Franklin a draft. We can assume that Sherman and Livingston also reviewed it.
In 1825, in a letter to a friend, Jefferson explained his purpose:
. . . Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.
So it was written, this declaration. And the final copy was presented to the gathering of men in Philadelphia.