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In June 1775 the Continental Congress did the best thing it could possibly have done to carry on the war successfully. It chose George Washington, of Virginia, the bravest, most able, most patient, and unselfish man in all the Colonies, to be the commander of the Colonial Army. He had been a fighter since his boyhood and a very useful citizen in many other ways. He soon proved that, even if he did not have enough soldiers to beat the famous British “red coats,” he could lose battles without losing the war, for he never let his army be captured-as British armies were captured by the Americans at Saratoga in 1777 and at Yorktown in 1781, in the two most decisive battles of this war. His soldiers loved him and all the colonists trusted him.

Washington's fame and the colonists' fight for freedom soon began to draw helpers from Europe-such men as Lafayette and Rochambeau from France, Kosciuszko and Pulaski from Poland, and Steuben from Germany-and these men helped to train and lead the colonial soldiers in the kind of fighting which was needed to beat the British. Love of freedom and admiration for George Washington often kept the Colonial Army from breaking up and going home when there was no money to pay the soldiers and hardly any food, clothes, or weapons to keep them alive and fighting.


The struggle against England drew the colonists closer together. At first they hoped that their willingness to fight might persuade the British Government to respect their rights and to treat them better. But as the war went on, they began to favor complete separation from Great Britain. Soon a committee of the Continental Congress, made up of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Philip Livingston, was appointed to draw up a Declaration of Independence.


On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, which had been written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Congress representing the 13 Colonies. It was almost a month later before the Declaration was signed by 56 men.

These signers and their families were regarded as traitors by the British Government. It is no wonder that Benjamin Franklin said, as the document was being signed, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Among the signers were farmers, lawyers, merchants, ministers, planters, doctors, and men of other occupations. If you study Figure 11 you will read the names and occupations of the 56 men who signed the Declaration. You will also learn what State each represented. The 13 English Colonies which became 13 States were (1) New Hampshire, (2) Massachusetts, (3) Rhode Island, (4) Connecticut, (5) New York, (6) New Jersey, (7) Pennsylvania, (8) Delaware, (9) Maryland, (10) Virginia, (11) North Carolina, (12) South Carolina, and (13) Georgia. Perhaps your own State is among them. .

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that the Colonies were from that day forward free and independent States and no longer under any allegiance or obligation to the British King, and that they had full power to make war or peace, or to take any action which other independent States had a right to take.



The colonists were successful in their War of Independ

When the news of the Declaration of Independence reached Europe, the French began to think about fighting the British again. The courage of Washington and his Army, the American victory at Saratoga, and the failure of the British armies to defeat the scattered and weak colonists led France to make an alliance with "the United States of America” in February 1778, and soon after to send a fleet of war vessels to help the Americans. Spain and Holland also joined the war against England although

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State Work John Adams.-- Mass.. lawyer. Samuel Adams.----- Mass.. brewer. Josiah Bartlett..----

N. H.. physician. Carter Braxton....


Owner. Charles Carroll Md.... lawyer. Samuel Chase..

Md. lawyer. Abraham Clark. N. J--- lawyer. George Clymer--- Pa ---- merchant. William Ellery- R. I lawyer. William Floyd...... N.Y.. land

Owner. Benjamin Franklin - Pa.---- printer. Elbridge Gerry ---- Mass.. merchant. Button Gwinnett..... Ga...- merchant. Lyman Hall.... Ga---- physician. John Hancock... Mass.. merchant. Benjamin Harrison. Vo.--- planter, John Hart.... N. J--- farmer. Joseph Hewes---... N.C. - merchant. Thos. Heyward, Jr.- S. C--- lawyer. William Hooper.--- N. C.-- lawyer. Stephen Hopkins---- R.I.--- merchant, Francis Hopkinson. N. J--- lawyer. Samuel Huntington. Conn - lawyer. Thomas Jefferson... Va... lawyer. Richard Henry Lee. Va --- planter. Francis L. Lee. Va --- planter. Francis Lewis--- N.Y.. merchant. Philip Livingston...- N.Y.. merchant.


State Work Thomas Lynch, Jr.-- S. C.-- planter. Thomas McKean---- Del-- lawyer. Arthur Middleton.- S. C.-- planter. Lewis Morris... N. Y.. farmer. Robert Morris Pa..--- merchant. John Morton.

Pa----- surveyor. Thomas Nelson, Jr.. Va...- merchant. William Paca... Md.... lawyer. Robert T. Paine.---- Mass - lawyer. John Penn...

N. C... lawyer. George Read. Del... lawyer. Caesar Rodney- Del...- merchant. George Ross.-

Pa----- lawyer. Benjamin Rush ------ Pa----- physician. Edward Rutledge.... S. C.-- lawyer. Roger Sherman... Conn-- shoe

maker. James Smith ........

Pa ---- lawyer. Richard Stockton... N. J--- lawyer. Thomas Stone ------ Md... lawyer. George Taylor------ Pa...-- manufac

turer. Matthew Thornton.. N. H.- physician. George Walton.---- Ga. -- lawyer. William Whipple.- N. H.- merchant. William Williams -- Conn.- merchant. James Wilson...

Pa-----lawyer. John Witherspoon.- N. J.-- minister. Oliver Wolcott.. Conn.. lawyer. George Wythe.. Va... lawyer.

Figure 11

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

they did not send help to the colonists. The British began to have troubles in many places. Before long they had to give up Philadelphia, which they had captured in 1777, and were only able to hold onto New York City and parts of the Southern States. Finally their only fighting army in America was surrounded at Yorktown in Virginia and forced to surrender.

The patience and able leadership of George Washington, the courage of his little army and its officers, and the help given by our French allies had won the war. When the treaty of peace was signed in 1783, the Colonies were recognized by the great nations of Europe as independent States and an independent Nation, which they had been claiming to be since 1776.


Ever since the signing of the Declaration of Independence we have celebrated the 4th of July as Independence Day. We celebrate it as our Nation's birthday. The old cracked Liberty Bell, which was used to “proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," may be seen today in the old State House in Philadelphia. (See Figure 12.)


Put the correct word in each blank:

1. The

settled what is now known as Pennsylvania.

2. The lawmaking body of the British Government is called the

3. The 13 Colonies fought a long war and won from Great Britain their

4. The document declaring the 13 Colonies to be free and independent States is known as the

5. We celebrate our Nation's birthday on the fourth of


*Let Freedom Ring

"We hold these truths to be self-evident.That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

- Declaration of Independence.

Figure 12

The Old Liberty Bell

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