What Is the Declaration of Independence? by Michael C. HarrisStep back in time to the birth of America and meet the real-life rebels who made this country free!
On a hot summer day near Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat at his desk and wrote furiously until early the next morning. He was drafting the Declaration of Independence, a document that would sever this countrys ties with Britain and announce a new nation—The United States of America. Colonists were willing to risk their lives for freedom, and the Declaration of Independence made that official. Discover the true story of one of the most radical and uplifting documents in history and follow the action that fueled the Revolutionary War.
The Story of the Fourth of July
We think of July 4, , as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. But July 4, wasn't the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence they did that on July 2, And it wasn't the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence that was in June Or the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain that didn't happen until November Or the date it was signed that was August 2, The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, They'd been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.
The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The Lee Resolution for independence was passed on July 2 with no opposing votes. The Committee of Five had drafted the Declaration to be ready when Congress voted on independence. John Adams , a leader in pushing for independence, had persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document,  which Congress edited to produce the final version. The Declaration was a formal explanation of why Congress had voted to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms.
There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence , but it isn't a secret map or code. No one knows who wrote this, but it was probably added as a label when the document was rolled up for storage many years ago. Once the Declaration of Independence had been written and signed, printer John Dunlap was asked to make about copies to be distributed throughout the colonies. In , someone discovered a previously unknown Dunlap Broadside. There are only 26 known surviving Dunlap Broadsides today.
By issuing the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, , the 13 American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain. By declaring themselves an independent nation, the American colonists were able to confirm an official alliance with the Government of France and obtain French assistance in the war against Great Britain. Throughout the s and early s, the North American colonists found themselves increasingly at odds with British imperial policies regarding taxation and frontier policy. When repeated protests failed to influence British policies, and instead resulted in the closing of the port of Boston and the declaration of martial law in Massachusetts , the colonial governments sent delegates to a Continental Congress to coordinate a colonial boycott of British goods. When fighting broke out between American colonists and British forces in Massachusetts, the Continental Congress worked with local groups, originally intended to enforce the boycott, to coordinate resistance against the British.
When armed conflict between bands of American colonists and British soldiers began in April , the Americans were ostensibly fighting only for their rights as subjects of the British crown. By the following summer, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, the movement for independence from Britain had grown, and delegates of the Continental Congress were faced with a vote on the issue. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence—written largely by Jefferson—in Philadelphia on July 4 , a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence. Even after the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did—like John Adams— were considered radical. Things changed over the course of the next year, however, as Britain attempted to crush the rebels with all the force of its great army. In his message to Parliament in October , King George III railed against the rebellious colonies and ordered the enlargement of the royal army and navy. Livingston of New York—to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.