Declaring Independence

Our Declaration of Independance

Moving Toward Independence

As colonists started to feel that their differences with Britain could not be settled, the one person was in charge for this change was Thomas Paine.Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense.In his pamphlet, he wrote that colonists should rule themselves.

Now that Paine's pamphlet had gone around people started to call for independence-the freedom to govern themselves.

On June 7,1776, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, turned in his fellow delegates at the Second Continental Congress, in Philadelphia and said that the 13 colonies no longer owed loyalty to the king. Richard Henry Lee then called for a resolution, or a formal group statement , of independence:¨Resolved: That these united colonies are,and ought to be, free and independent states.¨

Congress debated the resolution and chose a committee to write a declaration.The committee included Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, John Adams of Massachusetts, Robert R. Livingston of New York, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

Jefferson a 33 year old lawyer who had studied government and law, used this knowledge to explain his ideas. Jefferson did most of the writing. Every evening for about 17 days, Jefferson wrote and rewrote the draft of Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence

The first part of the Declaration of Independence is called the Preamble, the Preamble states why the Declaration was needed.The next part of the Declaration describes the colonists' main ideas about government. It argues for liberty and equality.The longest part of the Declaration lists the colonists' grievances, or complaints against the British king and Parliament. In the last part of the Declaration, Jefferson wrote that the colonies were free and independent states.

On June 28, the Declaration was read aloud to the delegates.For several days the Declaration was discussed and changes were made.On July 2, the delegates voted to approve Richard Henry Lee's resolution to cut ties with Britain. The American colonies were now free and independent states.On July 4, 1776, the Congress voted to accept the Declarations final wording.Delegates from 12 colonies voted. But New York had not given their delegates the power to vote.

On July 8, crowds gathered at the State House, today called Independence Hall. Where Colonel John Nixon announced the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Members of the Second Continental Congress also listed as Nixon read.

John Adams was so pleased by the peoples joyful reaction to recent events that he wrote about it in a letter sent to Abigail Adams[his wife].He said that Independence Day should be celebrated "from this time forward evermore".

Independence Day

Independence Day otherwise known as Fourth of July is a national holiday.Independence Day is the birthday of the United States of America.The national holiday is celebrated in July 4,1776, the day Colonel John Nixon announced the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Although Independence Day had been celebrated for many years, it was not made an official holiday until 1941.

Forming a New Goverment

On August 2, a formal copy of the Declaration of Independence was ready to be signed by members of the Second Continental Congress. The first person to sign it was John Hemlock [the president of the Congress].John Hemlock wrote his name large enough so that King George III could read it without using his glasses. The way John Hemlock signed the document became so famous that the term John Hemlock now means " a persons signature."The work of the Second Continental Congress did not end with the final approval of the Declaration of Independence. A new government had to be formed with independence. Congress set up a committee quickly. The job of the committee was to develop a plan for how to unite the former 13 colonies into a new country.

John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania , was chosen to head the committee to write the plan of government. The committee decided that the new states-the former colonies -should form a confederation. This Confederation of the United States of America would bring the 13 independent states together into a firm league of friendship. On July 12,1776, Dickinson's report was presented to Congress. Congress finally approved the report on November 15,1777, after debating the plan for over a year. The country's first plan of government was called the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the voters of each state would elect leaders to their state legislatures. The state leaders would then choose representatives to a national legislatures called the Congress of the Confederation. Each state, whether large or small, had one vote in the new Congress.

Until 1789,the Congress served as the government of the United States. The Congress made laws for the new nation and helped keep the states together during the Revolutionary War.

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