On July 4, we celebrate our world-shaking proclamation, the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s “all men are created equal”, “life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness”, governments get their powers from the people – continue to inspire us. While surely significant, it was only one of 8 Big Events that created the United States.
- The French and Indian War (1754-1763) – the colonists fought as loyal Englishmen alongside British redcoats to drive the French out of North America.
- The Stamp Act – the Brits put a tax on dozens of items to help pay for the war against the French. The colonists cry foul, and many shout “no taxation without representation”. (translation – you can’t tax us without our consent, lads)
- Boston Massacre – British soldiers fire their weapons at a mob of Bostonians who pelt them with snowballs and other icy missiles. Outrage throughout the colonies, and Patrick Henry names it a “massacre”, even though only 5 are killed.
- Boston Tea Party – Massachusetts men (the Sons of Liberty), poorly disguised as Indians, dumped an entire shipment of British tea into Boston Harbor. England responded with punitive acts (names like The Coercive Act – yikes), and the colonists convened the First Continental Congress to deal with the escalating tensions.
- Lexington & Concord – Having occupied Boston, the British army sets off for Concord to capture a secret store of weapons. Paul Revere sets out on horseback to warn the towns along the way that the soldiers are on the march. Minutemen prepare their weapons and war breaks out.
- Declaration of Independence – members of the Continental Congress approve the declaration with its universal principles and appeal to other nations for recognition. It is an act of treason against the King of England and Parliament.
- The Revolutionary War – It’s one thing to declare it; now they had to make it stick. From 1775 through 1781, at places like Saratoga, Valley Forge and, finally, at Yorktown the colonists and their ever improving Continental Army eventually drive the British to surrender (ironically, with French help)
- The US Constitution – After working from May to September 1787, the new United States is fashioned under the leadership of Madison, Hamilton, Washington and 32 other patriots.
An entire generation devoted themselves to creating a nation. George Washington was thirty-three years old when the Stamp Act passed and 55 when the Constitution was completed.
Enjoy the 4th!