The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congresson July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Independence Day of the United States is celebrated on July 4, the day Congress approved the wording of the Declaration.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. The first ten constitutional amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791 are known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution guides American society in law and political culture.
The American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials. By 1774, each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to govern itself, but still within the empire. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Americans managed the armed conflict against the British known as the American Revolutionary War. In 1776, representatives from each of the original 13 states voted unanimously in the Second Continental Congress to adopt a Declaration of Independence.
The Emancipaton Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states then in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. at that time. The Proclamation immediately freed 50,000 slaves, with nearly all the rest freed as Union armies advanced. The Proclamation did not compensate the owners and did not outlaw slavery itself.