July 4 is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. A group of 56 men met in Philadelphia in 1776 to approve the document, which declared that the United States was its own country.
The Declaration of Independence is basically a letter to King George III of Great Britain. It explains why the American colonists didn’t want to be controlled by the British government anymore. They accuse the king of treating them unfairly and taking away their freedoms.
Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British and won their freedom. It helped inspire other people around the world to declare their own independence from kingdoms and empires.
Activists and freedom fighters often quote this famous sentence from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It says “all men are created equal” (it should really say “all people,” not just men), but Americans have been fighting for equal rights ever since it was signed. Throughout American history, people have held up the Declaration of Independence when they advocate for more freedom — such as recognizing women’s right to vote, abolishing slavery, ending racial segregation and legalizing same-sex marriage.
Even today, many Americans say we are still not living up to the values in the Declaration of Independence. Millions of citizens are supporting the Black Lives Matter protests because they think people of color are not being treated fairly or enjoying all the same freedoms as white Americans.
In some ways, the American Revolution is not over. It’s been 244 years since the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776, and the fight for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for all Americans continues.