How Old Is America?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:25:17 PM ET
Merica
Free-Photos/Pixabay

The United States became an independent country on July 4, 1776. This means the country turned 243 years old in 2019.

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The United States of America formed after the colonies decided to revolt against the British. The colonies would form a new nation. They made it official by signing the Declaration of Independence.

The Colonies

The United States was once 13 colonies: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.

The Boston Massacre

Many people do not realize how important the Boston Massacre was in the founding of the United States. Colonists had negative feelings about the British when the country was occupied by soldiers. Then, Britain began to overtax colonists. They grew angry.

On March 5, 1770, Colonists attacked British soldiers on Boston’s King Street with sticks, rocks and snowballs. Soon, the street became an all-out brawl as soldiers began firing shots at the crowd. The soldiers killed and wounded many colonists. Colonists grew angrier.

The Boston Massacre increased tension. The issues were growing, and Colonists were becoming tired of British rule.

The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party also added to ongoing tensions. The British Empire would tax the colonies to pay off its own debts. Colonists noticed the taxes increase. Tea had an especially high tax.

On December 16, 1773, colonists were angry they were being taxed without being represented in Parliament. In protest, colonists dumped 342 cases of tea into the Boston Harbor. They began to smuggle Dutch tea into the colonies instead.

The Revolutionary War

The Revolutionary War was the result of ongoing tension between Colonists and the British. The Revolutionary War started in 1775. While British soldiers in Yorktown, Virginia, surrendered in 1781, parts of the country remained occupied for two more years. 

The Declaration of Independence

In 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia. The group chose Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. He wrote the first draft in 17 days. He worked alongside Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman to finish it.

Congress approved the Declaration of Independence via a vote on July 4, 1776. It was official: the colonies declared they were separate from Britain. The Founding Fathers signed the document. John Hancock was the first to sign.

Today, the Declaration of Independence is one of the country’s most important documents. In fact, two of the people who signed the declaration would become presidents. They were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

The Constitution

The country adopted the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. It established new laws. It made a new identity for America. The document served as a follow up to the Articles of Confederation, which was tossed aside because it limited the power of the federal government. 

A Growing Country

After Colonists declared independence and the British Empire withdrew its troops, the United States of America grew. In 1803, the country purchased land from France. The Louisiana Purchase included land that extended from Mexico to Canada.