Declaration of Independence
Meanwhile in 1776, while the war was still being fought, a committee including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson was assigned to draft a Declaration of Independence. It declared that the 13 colonies in North America were “free and independent states” and that “all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.” The final document was the result of much debate and multiple drafts; Adams wrote the bulk of it, but Franklin made several key edits. The delegates voted and the document passed in Congress on July 4, 1776. As legend has it, the Liberty Bell sounded to summon citizens to hear the first public reading of this revolutionary document on July 8, 1776.
In September 1777, American troops could no longer hold off the British, who invaded Philadelphia from the south. Washington tried to stop them at the Battle of Brandywine but was driven back. Residents fled into other parts of Pennsylvania and to New Jersey, and Congress fled to Lancaster and later to York. British troops claimed the city, abandoned by all residents who had the means to flee, for 10 months. But eventually, as battles ensued in other areas, the British troops pulled out of Philadelphia on June 18, 1778, to try to defend New York City.
With the help of the French army, who had recently joined the American cause, American troops began reoccupying Philadelphia. The city government returned a week later, and the tides around the colonies had shifted. The Continental Congress returned in early July, and the city was no longer under serious threat. The war was essentially won, though it wasn’t official until 1783, when the Treaty of Paris recognized U.S. sovereignty.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition