On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event that eventually led to the formation of the United States.
Conflict between the colonies and England were already a year old when leaders convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a session that took place on June 7th in the Pennsylvania State House, Richard Henry Lee presented a resolution stating the United Colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from any allegiance to the British Crown, and that any political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
Four days later, on June 11th, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of 7 to 5 (New York elected not participate). However, a committee of five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence. Members of that committee were John Adams, Roger Sherman, Ben Franklin Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson was also responsible for drafting the document that would become known as the Declaration of Independence. On July 4th, the document was officially adopted when John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence.
Today, the original Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The 4th of July was designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States put down its claim to be a free and independent country.