America is a country that is closely connected with concepts of freedom and independence. It got the most complete expression in a national U.S. holiday – the Independence Day. This day is celebrated on July 4. It is the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This day is considered the birthday of America.
“Between 1607 and 1733, England settled or seized control of thirteen colonies in what is now the United States” (Fradin, 7). It was the King and the Parliament of England who carried out the division of U.S. territories and collected taxes without taking into account views of the Americans. In 1775, the war broke out; the original purpose of which was to get better treatment from England. Gradually, the colonists realized that they started fighting for complete freedom from the governess and rule of the United Kingdom. At the sitting of the Congress in June 7, 1776, a resolution was passed asserting that the united colonies should be independent and free States and be exempted from the British rule. After debates, held 7 - 10 June, the vote of the resolution was postponed until July 1, and on June 11, the committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, R. Sherman and R. R. Livingston was elected to prepare a declaration in support of the resolution. The committee tasked Jefferson to draft the Declaration. He worked on the text for 17 days, without any help of scientific treatises and pamphlets. The Declaration was called to be an expression of aspirations of the U.S. and give it proper tone and spirit. Jefferson's draft was given to Congress with minor editorial amendments. The discussion of the resolution was resumed on July 1 and ended with its unanimous approval. Then the discussion of the draft of the Declaration began, during which some changes were made, in particular the section condemned slavery, and the slave trade was removed. On July 4, the Declaration was unanimously approved and certified by signatures of the President of the Congress.
The Declaration of Independence did not only explain the reasons which led the Americans to separate from the mother country. It was the first document in the world history that proclaimed the principle of sovereignty as the basis of the state structure. It maintained the right to overthrow an oppressive government and proclaimed the basic ideas of democracy - equality of people, their "inalienable rights that include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". The Declaration was not only the "birth certificate" of the new state, but a recognized monument of American literature. Jefferson managed to express well-known principles and ideas with the help of great language, in a concise and accessible way.
The signing ceremony of the Declaration was held on 2 August 1776 after John Hancock, the President of the Second Continental Congress, and another 55 people had signed it. J. Dickinson, John Jay, and Robert R. Livingston refused to sign the Declaration. Names of people who signed the Declaration entered into the U.S. history. The memorial in Washington is dedicated to them. On the famous painting by J. Tremblay, The Declaration of Independence, which hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol, 36 out of 48 images of characters were written in their lifetime. The original Declaration, which previously was kept in the Library of Congress, was transferred to the National Archives building in Washington and along with the original U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights is submitted for review in the showroom. The date of approval of the Declaration on July 4 - became a national U.S. holiday – the Independence Day, celebrated annually throughout the country.