Happy Fourth, all! Today marks the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration really did not mark the start of the Revolutionary War; that had come more than a year earlier, in April 1775, with the “shot heard ’round the world” at the Battles of Lexington and Concord (Paul Revere’s “Midnight Ride” had come the day before that). Those battles were soon followed by the Siege of Boston, which included the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 as the besieged British soldiers tried (and failed) to break the siege. There is a monument, museum, and memorial park there today. In true modern American fashion, there is also a shopping mall. But I digress.
The Declaration only came after the Continental Congress’ pleas to King George III to intercede with Parliament on their behalf went unanswered, or perhaps more accurately, were answered with Parliament’s approval of the Proclamation of Rebellion in August. This was followed by the King’s speech at the opening of Parliament in October 1775, reciting the offenses of the colonial rebels and declaring the details of his intent to suppress them. By December, the Continental Congress responded with the publication of their rebuttal in the Journals of Congress.
While all of this slow-paced exchange of political proclamations and speeches was going on, war was breaking out in earnest: in South Carolina, in Virginia, in Quebec, even in the Bahamas.
It was not until June, 1776, that the Continental Congress met to discuss a formal declaration of independence . After some drafts, discussion, and revisions, Congress actually voted for and declared independence on 2 July 1776 by approving the deceptively brief Lee Resolution:
“Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
The Declaration itself – the long version justifying all of the reasons for the colonists to “dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them” to Great Britain – was adopted two days later and began to be published in newspapers and broadsides around the colonies. It was not actually signed until August, 1776.
But back to the Declaration: who knew that Chuck Norris was such a history buff? Several years ago for Independence Day, he published a pair of articles at Town Hall, relating some interesting and little-known facts about the Declaration of Independence. Check them out here:
Enjoy… and have a happy and safe Independence Day!