July 4, 1776 is the date that the Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies adopted their declaration to be independent of the British Empire.
Though battles continued as long as 1783 (to The Treaty of Paris signed September 3 that ended the revolutionary war), Independence Day is considered July 4 because the American Continental Congress voted for and ratified independence on July 4, 1776.
The declaration itself is surprisingly just a one-page document that consists of six sections.
This section notes the necessity for this declaration.
Preamble Here we find one of the most famous sentences known to modern man.
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.
The preamble also contains ideas of what government should be, and especially the concept that when a government becomes abusive, it is the right of the people to abolish it and to create something new.
Indictment This is a list of how King George III has abused the rights of the American people. One example is:
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
Denunciation This explains how the Americans have appealed to Britain, and warned them about their abuses, but to no avail.
Re-enactment Image by Spencer, at Pixabay
Conclusion The representatives declare the United States of America absolved of their allegiance to the British Crown.
Signatures Here are listed, by the 13 American colonies, the signatures of the respective representatives.
John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, was the first to sign the declaration. Today, we have a casual expression "just put your John Hancock here" that alludes to putting one's signature on a document.
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Image
Thomas Jefferson, a founding father and politician of the American colonies, was chosen to draft the declaration. He is considered the main author of the document.
Though a short document, the Declaration of Independence has come to hold a very important place in history! Every year, on July 4, celebrations are held across the United States to commemorate this important part of their history. It has also inspired independence movements in other nations around the world.