The Continental Congress of the thirteen American colonies declared their independence from British rule on July 4th, 1776. This event, which led to the formation of the United States, is celebrated each year as Independence Day.
In 1606, the King of England granted charters to the London Company and Plymouth Company to create permanent settlements in America. Thirteen colonies were established along the Atlantic coast: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The colonial population expanded from around 2,000 to 2.4 million people between 1625 and 1775.
The colonists began protesting British rule in 1765 beginning with the Stamp Act Congress, also known as the Continental Congress of 1765. The meeting was held in New York and attended by representatives from several colonies. The purpose of the meeting was to organize a protest against Britain’s Stamp Act. The Act imposed a direct tax on the colonies to help pay for British military troops serving in the colonies after the French and Indian War. It included a tax on almost every type of printed material used by the colonists.
In 1770 British soldiers shot and killed colonial protestors (the Boston Massacre) during a confrontation in Boston.
Another event, the burning of the Gaspee in 1772, further increased tensions between Britain and the Colonies. The HMS* Gaspee was a British customs enforcement schooner that ran aground while chasing a small colonial ship. A group of men boarded and torched the ship.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was another political protest in response to British taxation.
Britain believed the taxes were fair due to the wars the British fought on behalf of the colonists. The colonists objected to being taxed generally, and without representation in Britain’s Parliament.
Hostilities broke out when the British tried to destroy American military supplies in 1775.
Over 200,000 colonists fought the British during the American Revolution. which ended in 1783. An estimated 4,500 colonists were wounded during the conflict, and 4,435 died in battle.
*HMS = His/Her Majesty’s Ship – used in the names of ships in the British navy “HMS Gaspee”.
The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It proclaimed why the Colonies no longer considered themselves under British rule and the equality of all persons; (quote start)
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” (quote end)
Fourth of July celebrations typically include parades, barbeques, fireworks displays and many other types of festivities. Here is a list of some of the top fireworks shows in the country.
- Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks (Live on NBC at 8 PM EST)
- National Mall Independence Day Celebration, Washington D.C.
- Boston Pops Fireworks Display, Massachusetts
- Addison Kaboom Town, Texas
- Atlantic City 4th of July Fireworks, New Jersey
Military pensions were paid todisabled soldiers and sailors for more than a century before the American Revolution. The first colony to pay a pension was Plymouth starting in 1636.
A few months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Continental Congress adopted the first pension legislation. It provided half pay for disabled military veterans who could no longer earn a living, for as long as they were disabled.
Two years later, in May of 1778, another resolution was passed to encourage military officers to stay until the end of the war. It gave them half pay for 7 years once the conflict had ended. Enlisted men who stayed received a stipend of $80.
The first widow’s pension was approved by the Continental Congress on August 24, 1780. It provided half-pay to the widows and orphans of officers for 7 years.
Today, VA military pensions include basic pensions for low-income veterans and spouses, and a special long-term care benefit called Aid and Attendance.
The Aid and Attendance benefit is a reimbursement for care that can help cover the cost of home care, board and care, adult day care, assisted living and skilled nursing home care. It is tax-free and does not need to be paid back.
Benefit requirements include having served during a eligible wartime period and needing help with some of the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and mobility. There are also various income and asset requirements. If you would like to learn more about the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit, call one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065, or click here.