What happened to Independence Day? - The Explorer: Voices

What happened to Independence Day?

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Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

On July 4th, 1776, the United States declared its independence from Britain; in effect, we celebrated our first birthday. But why did the citizens feel the need to break away from Great Britain?

A driving force in the decision to become independent from Great Britain was because people here were being told what to do, and forced to give more of their income in taxes to another country. It was on the order of having an older sibling tell the younger one what to do and concurrently taking an increasing amount of their allowance. Great Britain continued piling on strict rules that the colonists were required to follow and paying ever-increasing taxes without having a say in the matter.

Eventually, American people could no longer tolerate Great Britain's domination, and collectively decided to tell the overseers it was time to become an independent country. Independence, and most notably freedom, is a great motivator.

The Congress met in Philadelphia, Pa., and appointed a committee to work together on a specific job, writing a formal document advising Great Britain that the Americans had decided to govern themselves. Thomas Jefferson was asked to write the first draft of the document; he labored on it for days in complete isolation and secrecy. On June 28, 1776, the committee was summoned to meet with Jefferson and read his creation. They made some minor revisions to the document and then declared their independence on July 2, 1776.

The Declaration of Independence was officially adopted July 4, 1776, which became known as "Independence Day." Congress ordered all sitting members to sign the declaration, and signing of the official copy commenced on Aug. 2, 1776. In January of the following year, Congress sent a signed copy to each state.

Over the years the Declaration of Independence evolved into much more than just a piece of paper. It's a symbol of our country's independence, freedom, and commitment to certain ideals.

The original signers of the Declaration of Independence intended for the citizens of the United States to have a lifelong document that expressed the most important ideals to our leaders and citizens. The people who signed the original declaration took a huge risk and could have been hanged for treason by those in power in Great Britain. Because of these people, the United States became a free and independent nation and remains so today due to the sacrifices of countless others along the way.

Here are several questions to test your basic knowledge regarding our independence.

1) When did the Continental Congress actually pass a resolution of Independence? A) July 1, B) July 2, or C) July 3.

2) Who wrote the first draft of the declaration? A) Ben Franklin, B) John Hancock, or C) Thomas Jefferson.

3) Which of the following was something Congress cut out of Jefferson's draft of the declaration? A) removal of all references to slavery, B) removal of all references to women, or C) removal of a paragraph written in Latin.

4) Which two primary figures in the history of our independence died on the 50th anniversary of the declaration? A) Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock, B) Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, or C) Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

Q1: B is correct Q2: C is correct Q3: A is correct Q4: B is correct

The phrase seen on bumper stickers, "freedom isn't free," may sound trite, but the fact is there's a lot more to freedom than meets the eye, and it isn't something that came easy or has been sustained without human sacrifices. Embrace it, enjoy it, defend it, but never take it for granted because it isn't something that lasts forever without constant effort and vigilance. Sept. 11 is the most recent example of such a threat to our way of life.

I hope we'll always remember that being united allows us to stand for freedom and independence.

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