Continental Congress Adopts the Declaration of Independence
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king.
The declaration came 442 days after the first rounds of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict which could eventually encourage the intervention of France on behalf of the Patriots.
The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a tax measure aimed at increasing the revenues of a standing British army in America. Under the banner “no taxation without representation”, the settlers convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to express their opposition to the tax.
With its enactment in November, most settlers called for a boycott of British goods and some organized attacks against customs and the homes of tax collectors. After months of protests in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the stamp law in March 1766.
READ MORE: 7 Events That Led To The American Revolution
Why did the American colonies declare their independence?
Most settlers continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament passed the Tea Law in 1773, a bill to save the failed East India Company by drastically lowering its tea tax and by granting it the monopoly of the American tea trade.
The low tax allowed the East India Company to even undermine tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many settlers viewed the law as another example of fiscal tyranny. In response, militant patriots in Massachusetts organized the Boston Tea Party, which saw some 18,000 pounds of British tea spilled in Boston Harbor.
The British Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other egregious acts of destruction of British property, promulgated the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to the navy merchant, established an official British military regime in Massachusetts rendered British officials immune from criminal prosecution in America and demanded that settlers quarter British troops.
The settlers then called on the first Continental Congress to consider American resistance united to the British.
With the other colonies watching closely, Massachusetts led resistance to the British, forming a phantom revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the growing British military presence in the colony.
In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a patriotic arsenal was known. On April 19, 1775, British regulars met a group of American militiamen in Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.
Initially, the Americans and the British regarded the conflict as a kind of civil war within the British Empire: for King George III, it was a colonial rebellion and for the Americans, it was a struggle for their rights in as British citizens.
However, the Parliament still did not want to negotiate with the American rebels and instead bought German mercenaries to help the British army to quell the rebellion. In response to Britain’s continued opposition to the reform, the Continental Congress began to adopt measures abolishing British authority in the colonies.
How did the American colonies declare their independence?
In January 1776, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense”, an influential political pamphlet which convincingly pleaded for American independence and sold more than 500,000 copies in a few months. In the spring of 1776, support for independence swept the colonies, the Continental Congress called on the states to form their own governments, and a committee of five was tasked with drafting a declaration.
The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. To justify American independence, Jefferson was generously inspired by the political philosophy of John Locke, defender of natural rights, and the work of other English theorists.
The first section presents the famous lines: “We take these truths for granted, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. . “The second part presents a long list of grievances which provided the justification for the rebellion.
READ MORE: How the Declaration of Independence Appeared
When did the American colonies declare independence?
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for the separation of Great Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were added to the closure of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was officially adopted by 12 colonies after a minor revision. New York approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed.
The revolutionary war will last another five years. The Patriots’ triumphs at Saratoga remained, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the intervention of the French and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain, the States – Formally united has become a free and independent nation.