So what springs to mind when you hear – Independence Day. Is it the 1996 Film, or does it bring fond memories of a hot summer evening at Wembley Stadium in 1985 listening to Bruce Springsteen singing Independence Day? Whatever it conjures up in your mind, 90% of us will connect it with the United States of America and will have a mental image of the Stars & Stripes somewhere in our mind. The American flag with stars to represent the states of American and the 13 stripes that represent the original colonies.
Independence Day is one of the most important federal holidays in the USA . It celebrates the declaration by those original 13 American colonies that they were no longer “subject and subordinate” to the monarch of the United Kingdom in 1776.
Now the term “British America and the British West Indies ” is not heard often these days but is the term used to describe the overseas colonies for the English Colonies established in North America between 1606 and 1670. These colonies were established by individuals and companies with the aim of commercial gain. They were grated commercial charters by James I, Charles 1, Parliament and Charles II.
Colonies were established in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, the Pilgrim Brothers who came from England on the famous Mayflower settled in New England in 1620 and in 1634 a colony was established in Maryland.
So towards the latter quarter of the 18th century the colonies were established and the citizens of these colonies saw George II as their monarch and considered themselves British. However, there were a number of trade restrictions and the colonists relied heavily on Britain for commodities.
Great Britain has built up substantial war debts from the French and Indian wars and in order to reduce the debt they began to tax the colonists in a manner that caused discontent in the colonies as these taxation acts were being passed in the United Kingdom rather than in America. The colonists believed that these taxes violated their rights as British Citizens.
They were not happy and started to boycott, or not buy, British goods. In 1773 some colonists in Boston, Massachusetts demonstrated their frustration by dressing up like Indians, sneaking onto ships in the harbour, and dumping imported tea into the water. This was called the Boston Tea Party. The British closed the Boston port. A similar but smaller tea party took place in Yorktown, Virginia in 1774.
There is a very famous slogan associated with these times – No Taxation Without Representation.
These unpopular Acts, this perceived unfairness of taxation, and the British retaliation effectively led to the American War of Independence. War broke out in 1775 and in 1776 other European nations became involved.
The Declaration of Independence was the first step on the road to the creation of the modern day state we know as the United States of America
The most important effect of the Declaration was to allow for recognition of the United States by friendly foreign governments. The Sultan of Morocco mentioned American ships in a consular document in 1777 but Congress had to wait until the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France for a formal recognition of U.S. independence. The Netherlands acknowledged U.S. independence in 1782. Although Spain joined the war against Great Britain in 1779, it did not recognize U.S. independence until the 1783 – Treaty of Paris. The treaty ended the War of the American Revolution and at this point Great Britain officially acknowledged America as an independent nation.
So this Independence Day in the States there will be parades, concerts, fireworks and events all over the USA to celebrate their “independence” – the birth of their nation. It is a fascinating period of history and if you would like to read a little more, there is a lot more information available on the internet and also some excellent books available.