The Declaration of Independence is Read to George Washington's Army
First and foremost, I want to wish all of my followers a very happy Fourth of July. In the spirit of this special day, here is a short story about when the Declaration of Independence was read to George Washington's army for the first time.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. This proclaimed the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and King George III. The first section of the document starts with these immortal words, "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."
A copy of how the Declaration of Independence appears. (Photo: en.wikipedia.org)
The declaration came 442 days after the opening shots of the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts.
By July of 1776, General George Washington and most of the American army had marched from Boston to defend New York City from the British. On July 9, 1776, General Washington ordered his men to assemble precisely at six in the evening to hear the new Declaration that was adopted by Congress five days earlier.
As the army gathered before their officers, they were read words written by Washington himself before the contents of the Declaration were mentioned. Washington explained that Congress had, "dissolved the connection" that previously bound their country to Great Britain and that the "United Colonies of North America," had declared themselves to be, "free and independent states." After his own words had been communicated, Washington's troops were read the contents of the Declaration of Independence.
A video depicting General George Washington reading the Declaration of Independence to his troops. Some parts of this video are added for effect. There was no battle after the reading as portrayed at the end of the video. (Video: YouTube User- PastorAppreciation1)
The spirit of Washington's men soared after being read the Declaration. In his book 1776, David McCullough writes that after the readings concluded, "A great mob of cheering, shouting soldiers and townspeople stormed down Broadway to Bowling Green, where with ropes and bars, they pulled down the gilded lead statue of George III on his colossal horse." Taking further action, the crowd hacked King George's head off of the statue and later mounted what remained of the head on a spike outside a tavern. The body of the statue was later melted down to make bullets for Washington's troops in the coming battles to defend New York.
Pulling down the statue of King George III. (Photo: nyhistory.org)
In 1776, the bulk of Washington's army was raw and inexperienced in military affairs. General Washington believed that the Declaration would serve as a "fresh incentive" for his men to stay committed to the fight against Great Britain. His troops were now fighting for the birth of a new nation. The ideas presented by the Declaration of Independence would help Washington keep his army together through some of the most difficult moments of the war.