History Refresh: The 4th of July
What Happened on the 4th of July
Americans observe the 4th of July to commemorate the birth of our nation. With fireworks, cookouts, and garments consisting of red, white and blue, it’s a day that we all come together as a nation and celebrate with pride. In 1776, it was the day that the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was adopted and America’s 13 colonies officially declared their independence from Great Britain. With Thomas Jefferson as the main author, the Declaration of Independence’s contributors included: John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. It was later signed by all members of Congress on August 2, 1776.
How it All Began
By 1774, the first settled colonies grew tired of Britain’s tight control and high taxes. They felt that they were being unjustly taxed and didn’t have any representation in the British parliament. They expressed their unrest by staging rebellions, such as the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. The colonies formed the First Continental Congress on September 5, 1774, in order to come up with solutions that would convince Great Britain to recognize their rights. They were unsuccessful and Britain’s King George III continued to tax the settlers. This led to great discontent and eventually, the Revolutionary War.
The Revolutionary War
By 1775, Tensions between some of the colonists and Great Britain reached their boiling point. Rebellions and restlessness grew rampant and movement towards a revolution was rapidly gaining speed. Colonists wanted to take action and started by rallying troops and collecting supplies. When it was made clear that King George III had no intentions of making compromises, the support for the revolution increased. On April 19, 1775, the Revolutionary War began in the towns of Lexington and Concord Massachusetts. British soldiers and Minutemen, the colonists’ militia, exchanged gunfire in what is known as the “shot heard around the world”. George Washington was elected Commander of the American patriotic forces by the Second Continental Congress on May 10, 1775.
Even though the Revolutionary War continued on until 1783, America was eventually able to gain its independence from Great Britain. It would not have been possible if the Declaration of Independence was not finalized and adopted on our Independence Day, July 4, 1776. By declaring themselves as an independent nation through the Declaration, the 13 colonies were able to form an alliance with France, which ultimately led to Great Britain’s surrender to America in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. Later in 1783, a final peace treaty was signed in Paris, putting a final end to the Revolutionary War.