In 1776 twelve Colonies on the Atlantic Coast of North America declared their independence from Briton and formed thirteen United States. On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote these words to his wife Abigail, capturing the spirit of the times:
“Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony ‘that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States might rightfully do…’
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from Great Britain had originally been presented to Congress on June 7, 1776, but Congress agreed to delay the vote July. In the intervening period, Congress appointed a committee to draft a formal declaration of independence. which was presented to Congress for review on June 28, 1776. Congress thought it of the crucial that independence be unanimously proclaimed, so the debate was delayed until July 1, 1776, when debate on the Lee Resolution resumed.
Independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, with the passage of Lee’s resolution. The vote was unanimous, with only New York abstaining. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, which had been written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. John Hancock signed the document as President of the Congress and the printer Dunlap engaged to produce about 200 broadsides of the Declaration which was signed by the members on August 2, 1776.
An excerpt from The Declaration of Independence:
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.
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of It was approved, after a debate between , by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and came into force on March 1, 1781. Samuel Huntington served as the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled.
The United States Constitution, originally comprising seven articles. Its first three cover the doctrine of the separation of powers. The federal government is composed of three branches that act to balance each other like a clockwork modulates a well-regulated timepiece:
- The Legislative, the bicameral Congress representing each the people; and the states,
- The Executive the President;
- The Judicial, the Supreme Court, and federal courts.
Articles Four, Five and Six describe the rights and responsibilities of the federal government, state governments, and of the states. Article Seven establishes the procedure to ratify it.
With memories fresh from the reasons for separating from England, ratification required ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, added to the Constitution with guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, limitations on the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings, and declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people.
It is regarded as the oldest written and codified constitution in force of the world.
May we be blessed with continued Independence made possible by this contract.