4 July, 2022 By Eric Dunkelberger

The Fourth of July, 1776 is recognized as the day the United States (Colonies) of America declared their independence. While that day is the day the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed, there were a lot of events that led to that day. The British accepted the Declaration of Independence as a declaration of war. Blood on both sides had already been shed before that day.

If you were to ask the Founding Fathers when the revolution began, you may be shocked by the answer. John Adams wrote, “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.” Some say this may have been a reference to the 1730’s, but certainly the conditions were right in the 1760’s, with the British passage and implementation of the Intolerable Acts against the Colonists. Many Colonists were swayed by then.

When the British Army decided to seize weapons and gunpowder in Lexington and Concord, in Massachusetts, this became the first battles of the Revolutionary War. The date was 19 April, 1775, a little more than a year before the Declaration. Independence had become an issue by then and preparations were under way. The Continental Congress had created the Continental Army on 19 April, 1775 and the Navy on 13 October, 1775, with the Marines formed on 10 November, 1775.

On 7 June, 1776, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution to the Continental Congress. The resolution stated, “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; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a Confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.” Debate of the resolution lasted a couple of days, after which, it was determined that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were as yet unwilling to declare independence. The vote on the resolution was scheduled for 1 July, 1776. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. The members were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson. Debate resumed on the first of July with the vote happening the next day. Twelve colonial delegations voted for the resolution, with New York abstaining.

John Adams wrote that 2 July would be celebrated as the “most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of 4 July, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted.

With the adoption and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution became the War for Independence. The fighting went on until 19 October, 1781 with victory at Yorktown. The war was officially ended 3 September, 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The Declaration of Independence is rightfully given a special place among the founding documents. It contained three sections, starting with a section for natural rights theory, a list of 27 grievances and the declaration of independence, containing parts of the Lee Resolution. It is the foundation of American freedom.