(Reprint from Philadelphia, 4 July 1776)
In the words of John Adams, a delegate from Massachusetts, this was the most memorable epoch in the history of America. He spoke as fellow delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies approved a moving document, which declares these colonies independent from Great Britain. Only New York has abstained, but is expected to approve shortly.
The Declaration of Independence was drafted by a committee, which included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and the text was written by a delegate from Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, chosen for his masterly prose style. 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, it proclaims.
It continues with a firm condemnation of King George III: the history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States, and goes on to outline injustices.
The declaration lists some 26 examples of British tyranny which range from the kings obstruction of justice to the cutting off of American trade with the rest of the world, the waging of war on the colonies and the quartering of armed troops on the colonial peoples. No one can doubt the power and
sincerity of this document, least of all the British parliament, which has been petitioned for redress in the most humble terms yet only answered by repeated injury”. King George III is seen as unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
And as the bells ring out in this town tonight and the kings statues are toppled to the ground, John Adams sums up the feeling of the people about this first day. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward for ever more, He said.