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Declaration of Independence: Freeing America from Foreign Rule

The Declaration of Independence is the first of our founding documents – the very beginning of freedom in America.

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The United States of America is often called the land of the free, but that was not always true. Long before there was a United States, explorers from Europe sailed to America and settled the land. Even though they were in the “New World,” these Europeans were still ruled by their kings and queens. By the 1700s, the people of 13 British colonies in America had finally had enough of British rule. It seemed like King George III wanted authority over the colonists without having to take care of them. The Declaration of Independence was written, and the 13 colonies broke away from England. They became the first 13 states in the new United States.

It All Began with Taxes

By 1765, England was suffering from a war with France and needed money. Their version of Congress – called Parliament – started making taxes that the colonists had to pay. The colonists were unhappy that England would pass laws that affected their lives without giving them a chance to vote. Each new tax inspired some rebellion in the colonies. When the colonists pushed back against the taxes, King George III sent troops to force them to obey the laws. Every time the colonists rejected a law, the king sent more soldiers to fight them.

Restore the Relationship or End It?

Most colonists saw themselves as loyal British subjects and hoped they could fix their relationship with the king.

But in 1775, King George III denounced the colonies in front of Parliament. He started building up his army and navy so that he could finally end the rebellion in the colonies by force.

The colonists decided to break away from England and fight for independence from the king.

Declaring Independence

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. The Continental Congress discussed it for two days. Finally, they voted to accept the final version that we know today. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.

The colonists no longer hoped to fix things with the king, and they finally had something to fight for: freedom from England’s rule.

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