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.
The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. For almost a year the congress
tried to work out its 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.
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 its 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 its 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.
In Honor of Our Men and Women Serving our Country
the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us
freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester
to burn the flag."
Father Dennis E. O'Brien, USMC