Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4 - The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, a convention of delegates from the 13 American colonies that had started meeting in Philadelphia in mid-1775, voted to adopt a formal Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, with which the colonies were at war. In May, revolutionaries in the Congress, led by John Adams of Massachusetts, had started gathering support for breaking ties with Britain and forming a confederation of states. In June, the Congress formed a “Committee of Five” to draft a statement declaring those intentions. The statement, which was essential to international relations while at war, was written quickly by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia in the next 17 days. Congress changed some wording and deleted nearly a fourth of the text, notably a passage critical of the slave trade. Jefferson resented the edits. The Congress approved a resolution of independence on July 2. (The formal explanation was adopted on July 4.) In a letter to his wife, Adams predicted that July 2 would become a great American holiday.

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