Independence Day is the national holiday of the
United States of America commemorating the signing
of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental
Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the time of the signing the US consisted of 13
colonies under the rule of England's King George III.
There was growing unrest in the colonies concerning
the taxes that had to be paid to England. This was
commonly referred to as "Taxation without Representation"
as the colonists did not have any representation in the
English Parliament and had no say in what went on. As
the unrest grew in the colonies, King George sent extra
troops to help control any rebellion. In 1774 the 13 colonies
sent delegates to Philadelphia Pennsylvania to form the First
Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with
England, but were not yet ready to declare war.
In April 1775 as the King's troops advanced on Concord
Massachusetts Paul Revere would sound the alarm that
"The British are coming, the British are coming" as he
rode his horse through the late night streets. The battle
of Concord and its "shot heard round the world" would mark
the unofficial beginning of the colonies war for Independence.
The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second
Continental Congress. For almost a year the congress tried to work out
its differences with England, again without formally declaring war.
By June 1776 their efforts had become hopeless and a committee
was formed to compose a formal declaration of independence.
Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included John Adams,
Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas
Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented
to the congress on June 28. After various changes a vote was taken late in
the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted in favor of the
Declaration, 2 - Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted No, Delaware
undecided and New York abstained.
To make it official John Hancock, President of the Continental
Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that
John Hancock signed his name "with a great flourish" so
"King George can read that without spectacles!."
The following day copies of the Declaration were distributed.
The first newspaper to print the Declaration was the Pennsylvania
Evening Post on July 6, 1776. On July 8th the Declaration had its
first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square. Twice
that day the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing
church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung.
The "Province Bell" would later be renamed "Liberty Bell" after its inscription -
Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof
Have A Happy & Safe 4th Of July
God Bless You And Your Family
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