When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.
By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine's bestselling pamphlet "Common Sense," published in early 1776.
On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee's resolution, but appointed a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.
On July 2, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee's resolution for independence.
On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 "will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival ... from one end of this continent to the other."
On July 4, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson.
As we celebrate the 4th of July, we should remember that while independence from Britain was fought for and won, our independence from aggression and iniquity is not a right. Whoever it is that wishes this nation harm, our independence from them doesn't come easily or without cost.
It's those who have and do fight for the red, white and blue that keep us the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It's for them we should be grateful on the 4th of July.