The US celebrates 240th Independence Day
The United States of America celebrates the 240th Independence Day today.
4 July is the most significant national holiday in the United States. It celebrates the Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4 July, 1776. The Thirteen Colonies of America declared themselves to be states and no longer part of the British Empire, though the revolutionary war continued for some time after.
These mainly agricultural colonies were run by the British – who had been present on the continent since 1587 – and exploited for their resources, in particular tobacco.
While the relationship between the settlers and British was once amicable, tensions began to escalate over British laws and taxes, such as the Sugar Act, driven by British financial needs. There was also a growing sense of nationalism in the country.
From 1765, some settlers began to demand ‘no taxation without representation’, calling for their voice to be heard in the British parliament.
This tension sometimes erupted into fighting and acts of dissent, such as the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The event was a protest against the Tea Act, legislation which gave the British East India Company a monopoly on sales of tea in the Thirteen Colonie.
Further ill feeling was caused by the Coercive Acts – which became known as the ‘Intolerable Acts’ to American Patriots – which were implemented in response to the Boston Tea Party. The laws took power away from semi-autonomous Massachusetts.
In response to these factors, Continental Congresses – a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies – were convened. At the second meeting, in 1775, a war of independence against Britain was declared.
The next year, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 representatives of thirteen self-styled states (previously the Thirteen Colonies). The signatories included future president Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
The conflict continued until the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war in favour of an independent America.