On July 4, Americans celebrate Independence Day to remember the day our nation was born. In 1776, American colonists declared independence from their imperial oppressors. The Declaration of Independence is part of the foundation of American patriotism and is synonymous with this American holiday. Americans must remember the Declaration of Independence and understand the need for its creation. It is a document that established a new free country and points to the freedoms we enjoy today.
What does the Declaration of Independence say?
The Declaration of Independence contains three overarching themes. Historical writers summarize, “(1) God made all men equal and gave them the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; (2) the main business of government is to protect these rights; (3) if a government tries to withhold these rights, the people are free to revolt and to set up a new government.”
The document also lists the 27 cases of abuse of the British crown against the colonies. Most importantly, it declares the colonies are free and independent states.
Why was the Declaration of Independence written?
According to the National Archives, “The Declaration of Independence was designed for multiple audiences: the King, the colonists, and the world. It was also designed to multitask. Its goals were to rally the troops, win foreign allies, and to announce the creation of a new country.”
Some colonists did not appreciate the idea of disconnecting from their ancestral land. However, the Declaration of Independence encouraged many to risk their lives in a revolution and break free from Great Britain. The introductory statements in the Declaration of Independence, the preamble, were written to galvanize and unify the people. The preamble statements are among the most well-known phrases from the document. You might have memorized the following portion in elementary school. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If the Declaration of Independence was designed to win foreign allies, it succeeded tremendously. Several foreign countries played roles in helping the American colonists. France’s role in the fight for American independence is perhaps the most impactful. Decades earlier, French politicians’ ideological influence on American founding fathers ignited the colonists’ fiery drive for independence. Notably, before the 1777 Battle of Saratoga, the French secretly provided monetary funds and military support to the colonist rebels. When the battle ended in a surprising and decisive American victory, the French monarch and his advisors were inclined to aid the Americans further. France and the American government signed the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce on Feb. 6, 1778. By 1781, the pivotal alliance helped end the American revolutionary war when the French navy obtained British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia.
Spain also provided covert funding to the American side. The Spaniards officially joined the revolution in 1779, hoping to get back the land they lost to Great Britain. Their naval support together with the Dutch and French forced the British to spread thin their naval forces that would lead to Britain’s surrender. Holland had its skirmish with Great Britain yet provided financial support to the Americans in their cause and was the second nation to recognize American independence.
What are some rarely known facts surrounding this historic document?
When you remember the Declaration of Independence, you should consider Thomas Jefferson. The future president drafted the initial statements now known as the Declaration of Independence. English Philosopher John Locke influenced Jefferson’s writings. Locke theorized that a government’s power should come from the consent of the people, and such a notion is the basis of the American government. Jefferson also based the declaration on his writings of a preamble to the Virginia Constitution and George Mason’s draft of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to discuss declaring independence from Great Britain. On July 2, voters approved the motion for independence by President of the Continental Congress Richard Henry Lee. For two days, delegates from the colonies debated about and wrote revisions concerning the document.
Most people believe the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, but that is not true. Instead, July 4, 1776, was the day the Second Continental Congress officially agreed upon the final revision and adopted the Declaration of Independence. It was not until August 2, 1776, that 56 delegates signed the document.
A somber coincidence occurred on July 4, 1826, when President Thomas Jefferson and President John Adams succumbed to illnesses and died on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Both men were instrumental in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and signers of the document. Additionally, five years later fellow founding father President James Monroe also passed away on July 4.
Why is remembering the Declaration of Independence so important?
The Declaration of Independence was a uniquely written document that helped enable American colonists to free themselves from British rule. To remember the Declaration of Independence and its purpose is to consider how blessed we are as a nation today to have freedoms that many other countries do not have. The freedoms we enjoy today are a result of the boldness and resolve of the crafters of this historic document, the colonists who fought on the battlefields, and the people who refused to give in to tyranny.
If you would like to learn more about American history, then please read about the history of Flag Day.
We hope that this information on remembering the Declaration of Independence is useful to you.
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Joey Hinojosa graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and graduated from Texas Tech University with a master’s degree in mass communications. He joined the Empower Brokerage team in 2022 as a marketing specialist – editor.