Declaring Our Independence - Reading Comprehension
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Declaring Our Independence Reading Comprehension
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Declaring Our Independence
By Phyllis Naegeli
1 France and England were at war for many years trying to gain control of the world. The war had taken place from India to America. When it all finally ended, King George was victorious, but the war had been costly. He looked to the American colonies to raise the money needed to pay his war debts.
2 King George decreed that the colonies must purchase all manufactured goods from England and heavy taxes were placed on the items they bought. The colonists were enraged and began smuggling goods from other countries. When the king heard of this, he sent soldiers to search homes looking for these smuggled items. The cries of "taxation without representation" and "unlawful searches" began to echo through the American colonies.
3 Up until this time, the thirteen colonies each had its own system of self-government. They lived under British rule and were loyal to the king. They traded with each other, England, and countries around the world. There were bustling cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. With the new tyranny from England, things started to change. The colonies began to talk to each other about the oppression from England. They began to be united with the purpose of ending the tyranny. When the king ordered the colonies to purchase tax stamps for their newspapers and official papers, the tension between England and America escalated.
4 The king finally listened to the colonies and removed the taxes from everything but tea. However, he also instituted the Tea Act, which stated tea could only be bought and sold through the British East India Company. This would put colonial tea companies out of business. Again, the colonists were furious. When ships loaded with tea arrived in Boston Harbor, men dressed up as Indians and threw the tea overboard. This act, known as The Boston Tea Party, infuriated King George. He decided to force the colonists to behave and sent British ships and soldiers to Boston. The British ships blockaded the harbor, and the soldiers surrounded Boston to cut the city off from the rest of the colonies. The king wanted to use Boston as an example to the other colonists. His desire was for them to submit out of fear. Instead, the colonists came to the aid of Boston and sent supplies from all over America. The colonists refused to be bullied and defied the British wherever they could.
5 In September of 1774, delegates from the states attended the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia to discuss the situation with England. They wrote a list of grievances and sent them to King George. They decided to end all trade with England. If the king would not listen to them and nothing changed, they agreed to meet again on May 10, 1775. When King George did not reply, the resistance became rebellion.
6 On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride to warn the colonists of the advancing British army. In the early hours of April 19, British soldiers met a group of Minutemen at the Lexington Green. It was here that "the shot heard round the world" was fired, beginning the American Revolution. The British moved on to Concord and encountered more resistance. After a fierce battle, the British soldiers were forced back to Boston.
7 The colonial militia was a rag-tag group of farmers and tradesmen with no training. They had heart and were determined, but they needed military leadership to turn them into a fighting force. They found what they needed in George Washington. Washington agreed to take control of the army, trained them, and turned them into a force that was able to drive the British from Boston. By this time, sporadic fighting between other colonies and British troops had sprung up. King George needed to send many more soldiers to crush the rebellion. However, dealing with individual colonies presented a daunting task to the British king.
8 Late in 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Patriot leaders – such as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and John Adams from Massachusetts; and Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee from Virginia – called for independence from England. Soon, the plea for independence rang through the thirteen colonies. All over America, states held meetings to vote for independence. Each state sent the results to their representative at the Congress. "Independence" was their declaration.
9 Thomas Jefferson was chosen to draft the official document. After two weeks, he returned to Philadelphia with "The Declaration of Independence." On July 4, 1776, after three weeks of debate, it was approved. On July 8, the declaration was read to the people in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell rang from the tower of Independence Hall declaring America an independent nation.
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