Tag Archives: declaration of independence

From Sea To Shining Sea

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, assembled in steamy hot Philadelphia, voted to declare independence from Great Britain. What we know today as the Declaration of Independence, dated July 4, 1776, was a formal explanation of the declaration of independence voted on two days previously.


The American Revolution did not start with the Declaration of Independence, it began more than a year earlier, on April 18, 1775, when the British marched from Boston to Concord, to seize munitions stored there by the Massachusetts militia. The British were met at Lexington by the Minutemen, then by more militia at North Bridge, and were forced to fall back to Boston, where they were besieged. George Washington took command of the Continental Army, and after the battle of Bunker Hill, and with the arrival of artillery captured at Ticonderoga on the hills surrounding Boston, the British abandoned Boston and left for Halifax, Nova Scotia. General Washington then took his army to New York, where he awaited a British attack he knew would come. In July, 1776, the British arrived before New York in force and surrounded Washington’s army. When the declaration of independence reached General Washington he had it read to his troops. There was now no turning back, no negotiated peace, no settlement of grievances short of war to the finish.  


With the Declaration agreed to and signed on July 4, several broadsides containing various versions of the text appeared in public almost immediately, but the official text, with all the signatures, appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet on July 8, 1776. The citizens of Philadelphia were the first to read the now famous words


When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another…


words that caused many to be uneasy. The war was not going well. Great Britain was the most powerful nation on earth. These words were followed by


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…


How many who read those words fully understood the impact those few words would have on the history of the United States, the history of the world? There followed a list of twenty-seven grievances against the King and Parliament, justifying the declaration of independence voted for on July 2nd. The Declaration concluded with the following words


And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


There followed fifty-six signatures, including John and Sam Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Caesar Rodney, Thomas Jefferson, and ending with the words, Adopted by Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776.


And so it began.



Oh beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain

America! America!

 God sheds his grace on thee

And crowns thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!


Oh beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears

America! America!

God sheds his grace on thee

And crowns they good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!


Katherine Lee Bates, 1895