U.S. Military History: Independence Day

Ross Dunfee

The first successful English colony settled in America was at Jamestown, Va., in 1607—and the migration was on—primarily of British, German, and Dutch extraction, but immigrants arrived from throughout Europe. Communities were settled and financed primarily by privately-organized British settlers or families using free enterprise without any significant English royal or Parliamentary government support or input. After 1700, as the Industrial Revolution progressed, more of the population moved into cities, and the agrarian lifestyle shifted into manufacturing. Settlers established their own popularly elected governments and courts, and within a few years, became self-governing and self-supporting following mostly British law.

The original thirteen British Colonies were established as follows: Virginia in 1607, Massachusetts in 1620, New Hampshire in 1623, Maryland in 1634, Connecticut in 1635, Rhode Island in 1636, Delaware in 1638, North Carolina in 1653, South Carolina in 1663, New Jersey in 1664, New York in 1664, Pennsylvania in 1682, and Georgia in 1732.

In the mid-1700s, the British saw a rapidly-expanding industrious nation and perceived that the colonies were not providing adequately to Great Britain. British Parliament began passing regulations and taxation on the colonies, but without representation. The colonists saw this as improper, especially since the colonies were mostly self-sustaining. Conflicts grew and colonists were caught in a war of control between Great Britain and France (the French and Indian War or Seven Years’ War). Eventually, Great Britain began heavier taxation of the colonists. Some of the events leading to the Revolutionary War: The Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767, the Boston Massacre in 1770, the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the Coercive Acts of 1774, British attacks at Lexington and Concord in 1775 and on various coastal towns (October 1775 through January 1776).

After Thomas Jefferson published A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1774 and the Virginia Declaration of Rights (principal author George Mason) was approved on May 15, 1775, a committee of five was assigned the responsibility of preparing a document to declare independence of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson of Virginia led the committee, which also consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Robert R. Livingston of New York. The British Crown saw this as an insurrection and responded by enlarging their military presence. Conflict was inevitable and the Revolutionary War began.

The Lee Resolution (Resolution of Independence) was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, and the wording of that resolution was approved two days later. Part of the resolution, the Declaration of Independence, provides a litany of grievances against Great Britain, including taxation without representation, and also holds three major ideals: People have certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; all men are created equal; and individuals have a civic duty to defend these rights for themselves and others.

On Independence Day, Support Our Troops–Arizona (SOT-AZ) at Robson Ranch will be placing about 380 U.S. flags along the principal roads to honor the signing of the Declaration and implementation of our independence by the sacrifices that others bore to create and sustain this great nation. Contact Ross Dunfee at [email protected] for questions about this article, and Stephen Reeves, president, at [email protected] for more information about SOT-AZ.