The Fourth of July, Independence Day, marks the historic date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. The document stated that American colonies were tired of being ruled by Great Britain. They wanted to become their own country.
Before the declaration, America was part of the Kingdom of Great Britain (now called the United Kingdom). In the 1600s, people came from Great Britain to settle in what is now North America. Between 1607 and 1732, the British founded 13 colonies: Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
As these colonies grew, the people who lived there thought the British government treated them unfairly. For example, they had to pay taxes on items such as tea and allow British soldiers to stay in their homes. Colonists had to follow these laws but couldn’t do anything to change them. So they rebelled. As a result, the Revolutionary War between the colonists and Great Britain began in 1775.
But fighting wasn’t enough. The colonists decided they needed to declare their independence in writing to explain their reasons and gain support from other countries like France. On July 4, 1776, a small group of representatives from the colonies—called the Continental Congress—adopted the Declaration of Independence.
Written by a committee led by Thomas Jefferson, the document was signed by people from all 13 colonies. But the British government didn’t accept it. So the colonists continued to fight for independence until they finally defeated Great Britain in 1783.
The Declaration of Independence, now housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., is recognized around the world as an important message of self-governance and human rights. The second sentence says it all: that all people are created equally and have rights that include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson, who became the third U.S. president, wrote those words.
Today the United States and Great Britain are friends. Most Americans still celebrate Independence Day, often with parades and fireworks. Historians think this is thanks to a letter written by John Adams, who helped write the declaration and would also go on to be the second U.S. president. In his letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams predicted that the colonists’ independence would be celebrated by future generations as an annual festival with parades and bonfires. Those were prophetic words.
Here are biblical words about freedom:
+Galatians 5:1: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
+1 Peter 2:16: Live as free men, but do not use your freedom to cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
Have a blessed Fourth of July!