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008 What did the Declaration of Independence do?

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?
• Announced our independence from Great Britain
• Declared our independence from Great Britain
• Said that the United States is free (from Great Britain)

On July 4, 1776, a group of men convened (or met) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and signed a document called the Declaration of Independence. To declare means to announce or let other people know about something, so a declaration is an announcement of some important event or action. The Declaration of Independence declared that the United States was independent (or free) from the control of the government of Great Britain. Once the Declaration of Independence was signed, the colonists became revolutionaries (or people who want to change the government). Their goal was to end British rule (or power and leadership) in America.

Why did the American colonists want to become independent from Great Britain and create their own country? The British had spent a lot of money fighting the French and Indian War in America from 1754 to1763. When the War was over, the British government was poor. To make money, Great Britain began taxing its people, so that citizens had to pay more money to the government. The people the government taxed the most were those living in overseas (or foreign) colonies, including America.

Great Britain passed a series of acts (or laws) to put taxes on common things such as sugar, stamps, and tea. The acts made the colonists very angry, because they didn’t want to pay so much for the things they needed. So they boycotted (or did not buy) many of these things. However, some colonists did not feel this was enough and wanted to do more, much more. What they wanted was to get rid of (or to not have any longer) the British government’s power over their land.

After years of these unfair taxes, the American colonists decided to do something about it. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and divided it into three sections. The first part included the reasons that America had the right to be independent. The second part had a list of things that the British King had done to hurt America. The third part was the actual declaration of independence.

The Declaration of Independence was signed by many famous people, including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both later became U.S. presidents.
Benjamin Franklin, the important thinker and writer, also signed the Declaration of Independence.


to convene – to have everyone meet in a group; to create a meeting and to invite the members or other people to come
* Let's convene in Dylan's office at 3:15.

to declare – to officially state that something is true; to tell other people that something is true or has been decided
* Which president declared June 14 to be Flag Day?

independent – free; with liberty; not controlled by something or someone else
* When did this country become independent from Yugoslavia?

revolutionary – a person who wants to change the government
* Don’t you know who he was? He was a famous revolutionary in Cuba.

to tax – to make citizens pay money to the government so that it can pay for services and other things for the country
* The United States taxes its citizens to have enough money to pay for the army, education, roads, and many other things.

overseas – foreign; related to other countries, especially on the other side of an ocean
* Have you ever flown overseas?

act – a written law
* The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 protected many old buildings in the United States

to boycott – to stop using, doing, or buying something as a way to show that one doesn't like the way something is done
* In the 1960s, many people boycotted grapes because they didn't like the way that the people who collected grapes were being treated by the people who owned the grape farms.

to get rid of (something) – to no longer have something; to throw something away; to stop having something
* When are you going to get rid of these old clothes that are too small for you?