4th. of July -The Declaration of Independence
Historical Background to the Declaration of Independence.
Most Americans think they know everything about the Declaration of Independence of the United States from England in 1776. If anything, I hope to give you a bit of information that will result in you reading more about the times, the people and the events that made American Colonist want to separate from England.
In 1763, King George III of England decided to recover the costs of the French Indian War by passing “The Sugar Act“. it was the first law that over taxed the colonists on goods shipped to the colonies. These included sugar, coffee and cloth. Then in 1765 he passed “The Stamp Act” was another taxation law on the colonists that taxed newspapers, almanacs, legal documents, pamphlets, dice, and playing cards. In 1767 he passed “The Townshend Acts” that added tax on tea, glass, lead, paints and paper.
Some Merchants avoided the taxes by smuggling in goods that they needed, creating a network of secret organizations known as the Sons of Liberty, aimed at intimidating the stamp agents who collected Parliament’s taxes, and boycotting British goods, as in the famous “Boston Tea Party”, when protesters, disguised as Indigenous Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. The British Parliament passed the “Intolerable Acts” meant to punish Massachusetts for this rebellion.
These policies resulted in a strong colonial resistance and the “First Continental Congress” of 1774.
The First Continental Congress passed a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances,” which claimed that American colonists were equal to all other British citizens, protested No taxation without representation, and stated that, without colonial representation in Parliament, Parliament could not tax colonists.
In 1754, Benjamin Franklin printed a political cartoon and woodcut for the Pennsylvania Gazette, urging colonial consensus on the decision to fight the French and their Native allies for control of the Ohio River Valley and lands to the west.
This “Unite or Die” snake became a symbol of colonial opposition to British taxes and was part of the Revolutionary War.
The Declaration of Independence was crafted by a committee made up of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Although, Jefferson, recognized for his ability with words, wrote the first draft; then it was edited by the others, and then edited again by the whole Congress. Fifty-six members of Congress signed it (one of them as late as November)and voted by The Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776.
The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The ideas written in the Declaration of Independence of the United States from England in 1776 have been have been used by most countries in the world in their path to a democratic government. But, they came from different minds, through many leagues of time, and I hope you read what became the inspiration for such a perfectly written declaration.
Even though Jefferson is recognized as the Declaration’s author, Jefferson himself claimed there were no new ideas in it: credit too must go to Locke, Montesquieu, The Scottish Enlightenment, and the long struggle for English civil liberties, among other founts of liberty.
Under the Articles, the United States was essentially a federation of independent republics, with the Articles guaranteeing state sovereignty and independence.
During the American Revolution, the 13 American states replaced their colonial governments with republican constitutions based on the principle of separation of powers, organizing government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Books you might want to read or gift.