Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July Fourth - America's Independence Day

More than 90 different Declarations of Independence were made by by cities and organizations in Great Britain's Thirteen Colonies in North America between April and July first in the year 1776.  However, on 4 July 1776, the Second Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies voted approval of what we Americans now call "the Declaration of Independence" at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.  This document declared that the colonies regarded themselves as newly independent sovereign states, which were forming a new nation - the United States of America.
   A committee of five people had already drafted the formal declaration, so it would be ready when Congress voted on the issue of independence.  John Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version.  The Declaration was, ultimately, a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on 2 July 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
   The Revolutionary War in America continued until the 19th of October 1781, when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown.  By that time, over 217,000 Americans had participated in the war, with 4,435 war fatalities, and 6,188 wounded.  (And more than 8,000 African-Americans had participated as American soldiers.)  The numbers quoted above do not include those who died from disease or starvation.
   America's Revolutionary War formally ended on 3 September 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.  The preliminary articles of peace were signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens for the United States, and by Richard Oswald for Great Britain on 30 November 1782.  The United States Continental Congress ratified the Treaty early in 1784.

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