Freedom Took a Long Time

by George G. Morgan

Independence Day is a grand occasion for United States citizens. Each July 4th, we commemorate the patriotism of men and women who fought and struggled under often impossible situations for freedom from oppressive English rule. However, July 4th is merely one day in the long history of the flight for our independence. That date in history marks the signature of the Declaration of Independence.

Genealogists who have studied United States history know that July 4th is neither the beginning nor the end of the American Revolutionary War. It was, of course, an important milestone in communications between the colonists and King George III. However, it also served as a statement of the colonists' final frustration with a long series of unfair governmental restrictions, taxation, punitive treatment, and military attacks.

It is important to recognize that freedom did not come easily, nor did it come quickly. In fact, there was a period of thirteen years between the first military engagements at Lexington and Concord (on 19 April 1775) and the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788. The war itself lasted until the Treaty of Paris was signed on 3 September 1783, in which Britain accepted the independence of the thirteen colonies but retained the West Indies and the Canadian colonies. (You can view an image of the original treaty at the National Archives website.)

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