Since tomorrow is Independence Day, we are taking a break from our normal genre of topics to bring you a little history lesson in honor of our great Nation. Why do we celebrate Independence Day?
The short answer is that on July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. But here is how that happened.
In the summer of 1776, the colonies had convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In a June 7 session, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” These words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence.
Later, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence. Members included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.
The Continental Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776. Discussions of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision lasted until late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration. Two colonies, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, voted “no”. Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.
Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States became a free and independent nation.
Select Court Reporters is proud to celebrate our Independence. Have a safe and happy holiday!