The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. A new nation named the United States of America was formed. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved. Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version.