On July 2, 1776 the Second Continental Congress decided to legally separate the thirteen colonies from England. In order to explain that decision to the citizens of the thirteen colonies as well as justify their action to the crown, a Declaration Of Independence needed to be written. Five men were chosen to draft the declaration: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. They wrote an amazingly detailed list of grievances as well as the very definition of “A Free Man” which is duplicated below:
“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.”
Their idea of a proper relationship between the government and the governed was also spelled out, and isn’t it interesting to note the difference between their ideal as the reality we find ourselves facing a mere 239 years later?
Needless to say, many Americans think this was the victory date of the Revolutionary War, but in reality there were eight long years of war and strife between the opening salvos and the last British soldier boarding ship for the journey back home to England. September 3, 1783 was the date the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Versailles was signed, but the last British soldiers did not embark from New York until November 25.
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