American colonies declare independence
The 4th of July 1776 AD
Since the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 Britain and her American colonies had been heading for conflict – Britain needed to recoup the enormous costs of the war; the colonies had been freed from the threat of France and her Indian allies which bound them to the British motherland. Endless disputes – over taxes, over the duties paid on such necessities as rum (more of which was smuggled in from the Caribbean than was duty-paid), and over the fundamental principle, as far as the Americans were concerned, of ‘no taxation without representation.’
In the end it may simply have been that the child had outgrown the father. Republicans like the newly arrived Tom Paine stirred up the public with visions of freedom from royal rule, already too often seen as arbitrary and biased against the new territories. The Americans were increasingly convinced that Parliament in London should not be sovereign as regards them; Parliament , the King , and Lord North begged to differ.
War had in fact raged for some time before the Declaration of Independence, fighting having begun at Lexington on April 19 1775. After much debate, the Continental Congress agreed to the Declaration prepared by the Committee of Five which included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Adams expected July 2 to be the day celebrated by Americans in future, as that was the day when the Congress voted for independence; as history tells us, it would be July 4, when the Declaration was promulgated.
The second sentence of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” remains perhaps the most powerful and moving statement of political philosophy of the last thousand years.
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