The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence, adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776 is the beginning of America's grand history.
Let's learn more about the vital document written on a day we celebrate with cookouts and fireworks.
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin
drafting Declaration of Independence
In June, 1776, a committee was formed by a few key men, including Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the text of the Declaration. It was finished in late June and adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, the day we still celebrate in the United States as Independence Day.
There is some question as to whether all 56 signers of the Declaration were actually present on July 4, 1776 to sign the document or not. However, this is the date on which most of the signers were present, signed, and adopted the text, thus declaring their freedom from British rule.
Though we declared our independence from Britain in 1776, it wasnt until the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783 that some say we were truly free from Britain.
As the joke goes, it was signed at the bottom. But seriously, it was signed in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is the same place the US Constitution was signed only a few years later. Independence Hall can still be visited today.
Signers of the Declaration of Independence
Our original thirteen colonies used to be ruled by Britain, even though they were thousands of miles apart. They became increasingly unhappy with the King George IIIs rule and wanted to break away and form their own self-governing nation.
The purpose of the Declaration was to declare the colonies free and independent of Britain's oppressive and deadly rule over them. The colonies had no say in their own government. A common protest at the time was against "Taxation without representation".
The Declaration's text includes familiar lines weve heard, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
But further down in the document are the accusations against the King of Britain, describing why the colonies wanted to break free from Britain. These probably arent so well known as the rest of the text of the Declaration, but they are a fascinating peek into what the early colonists endured and fought for us all to be free from.
They noted such acts as the King sending people to harass the colonists and eat all their food, protecting his military troops from murders they committed against the people of the colonies, cutting off trade between the states and the rest of the world, destroying the lives of their people, unfair taxation, and much more, all documented in the text of the Declaration.
If there had been no independence from Britain, we would still be ruled by them today. Things might be just as bad -- or even worse -- than they were back then. The original colonists endured a lot of hardship and tragedy while under British rule. They suffered even more hardship and loss during the Revolutionary War, fighting for an independence they believed in and wanted for us so strongly.
We celebrate Independence Day to remember that our freedom today was the heartfelt dream of men more than 200 years ago and came at no small cost.
December 23, 1775
Arm yourself with knowledge. Then arm your fellow Americans. Share what you've learned.