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Declaration of Independence – Colonies Letter of Freedom

I’m writing to you about the Declaration of Independence which marked America’s independence from Great Britain. While most people celebrate on July 4th, the story of the Declaration of Independence actually began a bit earlier. This change was because the document required minor revisions and was only made official two days later. However, in some ways, July 2 can be considered the start of America as a sovereign country.

The Road to Freedom

Throughout the Declaration of Independence 1760s and early 1770s, the 13 British colonies of North America were left at odds with the British Imperial government, specifically regarding taxation and the frontier. New taxes adopted by the British system resulted in widespread protests, boycotts, and the closing of ports. 

in response, the British placed places like Massachusetts under martial law. Rather than restore order though, the British officials found their authority challenged by local governments and colonists. Although attempts to make amends with the British government were made, more and more representatives of the Continental Congress leaned towards independence.

By the winter of 1775-1776, the Continental Congress embraced the idea of independence, going against British policies and opening their ports against their wishes. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee formally proposed declaring independence which resulted in a committee led by Thomas Jefferson in drafting a declaration of independence.

When it was finished, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams reviewed the draft.

They Declaration of Independence preserved its original form but made some changes that might be controversial, such as blaming King George III for the transatlantic slave trade or the British people rather than their government. The committee presented the final draft before Congress on June 28, 1776, and Congress largely adopted it on July 2. However, additional changes continued to be made for the next two days before it was formally announced and adopted on July 4.

The biggest result of this Declaration of Independence was allowing other governments to formally recognize the United States including France and Spain who provided aid in America’s war against Britain. This would play a large role in helping the US win its war and in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Great Britain would also recognize US independence.

The significance of this document cannot be overstated and was immortalized by the words of John Adams.

“This Day the Congress has passed the most important Resolution, that ever was taken in America.”

-John Adams, Former US President.

Declaration of Independence History Text Documents

The official text copy of the Declaration of Independence was printed on July 4, 1776, under Thomas Jefferson’s supervision and sent to the states and the Army. A slightly different “engrossed copy,” made later for members to sign, is the version most commonly seen today. This engrossed copy, handwritten by clerk Timothy Matlack, became the basis for most modern reproductions due to poor conservation of the original. In 1921, the engrossed copy was transferred to the Library of Congress.

Historian Julian P. Boyd argued that the Declaration, like the Magna Carta, is not a single document. The printed broadsides ordered by Congress, including those printed by John Dunlap on July 4, 1776, are also considered official texts. About 200 broadsides were printed, with 26 surviving, including one discovered in The National Archives in England in 2009.

Following the American Revolution, the Declaration received little attention, having served its purpose of announcing independence. Early celebrations of Independence Day and histories of the Revolution largely ignored it. It was rarely mentioned during debates about the United States Constitution, with George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights being more influential. The Declaration did not initially live in the minds of Americans as a classic statement of political principles but has since become a symbol of American ideals and freedom.

So next time you celebrate Independence Day, remember July 2nd too. That’s the day we really started our journey as a free country!

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