History of 4th July

Well, if you are keen to pursue a little more than just history, given here are the links to some key documents known to be playing significant role in our country's Independence. For instance, study the Declaration of Independence; explore Thomas Jefferson through his autobiography. Catch Benjamin Franklin in a precious mood, or President Washington at his maiden address to the country. There is also a note on the Star Spangled Banner

American Independence Day History

History of 4th July features the anecdote of American Independence. The birth of United States of America.
It is a saga of struggle and sacrifices that helped the pre-US Americans break free their colonial status.
As we know, the birth and growth of what we call UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is of fairly recent origin, especially compared to countries in the Asia, Europe or Africa.
There have been great empires before with their population exceeding some hundreds of billions. But none has experienced a huge build up like that with mostly peoples coming from so many different places. All integrated today to belong to the United States. This is an altogether new thing in history.
How did such a strange thing happen?

The Backdrop

Zooming in around the seventeenth century in the chronology of the global history we see the whole of Europe was engaged in an unplanned, incoherent ebullition of enterprise due to temporary and almost accidental advantages over the rest of mankind. By virtue of these advantages the new and largely empty continent of America was peopled mainly from West Europe, as it happened in case of Australia and Canada, as a prospective home for a European population. There were settlements of the British, the Dutch, the French and the Spanish in various parts of North America. But the British ones absorbed the others.

By about 1600 England had a small settlement in Virginia and Holland had one around New Amsterdam, now called New York. But the British outgrew others in no time, calling for further expansion. So the British colonies grew in number. By 1732 there were 13 such. They had their own governments under governors sent out by the British monarchs.

Raison d' etre

Attracted by the growth of this new source of wealth for the national exchequer Britain levied taxes without any voice in the spending of those taxes. A host of consumer goods including tea, glass, paper and molasses were taxed. Also, the immigrant Americans were not allowed to embark upon industries that competed with those at home. The trade had to be sacrificed to British interests. In 1765, the British government passed the Stamp Act that put tax on all documents, newspapers and pamphlets. This incensed the Americans. Although the tax was repealed later, the bitterness remained. Matters grew worse when the Americans realized that they had no representation in Parliament. This realization magnified their sense of alienation from the motherland.
Discontent grew further when, despite the active support during the war with French, British failed to redress their grievances.
Finally, in 1773 when a fresh tax on tea was imposed, some Americans dressed as Red Indians boarded tea ships in Boston Harbor and tipped them into the water. This event subsequently came to be known as Boston Tea party. The British retaliated by closing the Boston Harbor and removing the city's charter. The Americans in turn, issued a Declaration Of Rights which, among other things, prohibited import of any goods from Britain until Boston's civic rights were restored. In 1774 the 13 colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to form the First Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with England, then under king George III, but were not yet ready to declare war.

The War unplugged

The Americans were already infuriated to the point of eruption.
Then came April, 1775. The British government attempted to arrest two of the American leaders at Lexington near Boston Harbor. And it was at Lexington where the British troops fired first shots. This spark-plugged the first fighting at Concord. The King's troops advanced on Concord Massachusetts marking the unofficial beginning of the colonies' war for Independence. The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Though the British General Howe was defeated near Boston, initially the Americans were in trouble.

The Independence

For almost a year theCongress tried to work out it's differences with England. But the war was yet to be declared formally. By June 1776 their efforts went in vain and a committee was formed to compose a formal Declaration of Independence.

Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented to the Congress on June 28. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. After various changes a vote was taken late in the afternoon of July 4th at a meeting in Philadelphia. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted in favor of the Declaration, 2 - Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted 'No', Delaware remained undecided while New York abstained.

The first newspaper to print the Declaration was the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6, 1776. On July 8th the Declaration had it's first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square.
The bell in Independence Hall was rung. The "Province Bell" would later be renamed "Liberty Bell" after it's inscription -Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.

Although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the 4th of July has come to be accepted as the official anniversary of United States' independence. In fact, the event came to be recognized as the most important one in American history and the document provided the basis of American Constitution which was issued some 11 years later. The first Independence Day celebration took place the following year - July 4, 1777.
Meanwhile the Americans under George Washington as commander-in-chief kept defeating the British troops. It was only after the British defeat under the General Cornwallis in 1781 Britain gave up. The official recognition didn't come until 1783, when peace was made in Paris. Thus the United States of America came into existence with a union of 13 thirteen sovereign states from Main to Georgia.

The Constitution

For almost four years these States had only a very feeble central government under certain Articles of Confederation and they seemed destined to break up into separate independent communities. It was in 1788 when a convention was held. Thanks to the initiative of some leading statesmen. A Constitution was drawn up and ratified based on the Philadelphia Declaration and the draft was finally approved. Thus a more efficient federal government came in to being with a President at the helm. The delegation at the convention unanimously elected George Washington as the first president who took office in 1789.
But did all these bring to an end the more-than-a-decade long War with Britain?
For more... the story of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.

Happy 4th of July!!

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