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The Story Of The United States
Independence Day

Independence Day is the National holiday of the United States of America commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time of the signing the US consisted of 13 colonies under the rule of England's King George III. There was growing unrest in the colonies concerning the taxes that had to be paid to England. This was commonly referred to as "Taxation without Representation" as the colonists did not have any representation in the English Parliament and had no say in what went on. As the unrest grew in the colonies, King George sent extra troops to help control any rebellion. In 1774 the 13 colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia Pennsylvania to form the First Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with England, but were not yet ready to declare war.

In April 1775 as the King's troops advanced on Concord Massachusetts Paul Revere would sound the alarm that "The British are coming, the British are coming" as he rode his horse through the late night streets. The battle of Concord and it's "shot heard round the world" would mark the unofficial beginning of the colonies war for Independence.

The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. For almost a year the congress tried to work out it's differences with England, again without formally declaring war.

By June 1776 their efforts had become hopeless and a committee was formed to compose a formal declaration of independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented to the congress on June 28. After various changes a vote was taken late in the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted in favor of the Declaration, 2 - Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted No, Delaware undecided and New York abstained.

To make it official John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock's signed his name "with a great flourish" so "King George can read that without spectacles!."

The following day copies of the Declaration were distributed. The first newspaper to print the Declaration was the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6, 1776. On July 8th the Declaration had it's first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square. Twice that day the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung. The "Province Bell" would later be renamed "Liberty Bell" after it's inscription;  Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof


And although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the 4th of July has been accepted as the official anniversary of United States independence. The first Independence Day celebration took place the following year, July 4 1777. By the early 1800s the traditions of parades, picnics, and fireworks were established as the way to celebrate America's birthday. And although fireworks have been banned in most places because of their danger, most towns and cities usually have big firework displays for all to see and enjoy.


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The Declaration of Independence
Of The Thirteen Colonies
  In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpation's, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation's, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolution's, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended Legislation:

For protecting them by a mock trial from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.  Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpation's, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.

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;  and that as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

The Signers of the Declaration Of Independence
and the new States they represented

Connecticut
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

Delaware
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Georgia
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Maryland
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Massachusetts
John Hancock
Samual Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton

New Jersey
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New York
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

North Carolina
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

Pennsylvania
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Virginia
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton


Are You Ready For A Celebration?
Bookmark this page and return again on July 4th to see the show.
All the fireworks and Sparklers below will activate on the 4th of July and will remain lit through the 15th of July.

***Update 7/4/00:  The previous fireworks and sparklers did not activate, so this is the best I could do.
Don't forget to have a happy....

 


 


 

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