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Declaration of Independence (United States), in United States history, a
document proclaiming the independence of the 13 British colonies in America,
adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The declaration
recounted the grievances of the colonies against the British Crown and
declared the colonies to be free and independent states. The proclamation of
independence marked the culmination of a political process that had begun as
a protest against restrictions imposed by the mother country on colonial
trade, manufacturing, and political liberty and had developed into a
revolutionary struggle resulting in the establishment of a new nation.
After the United States was established, the statement of grievances in the
declaration ceased to have any but historic significance. The political
philosophy enunciated in the declaration, however, had a continuing influence
on political developments in America and Europe for many years. It served as
a source of authority for the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. Its
influence is manifest in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen, adopted by the National Assembly of France in 1789, during the
French Revolution. In the 19th century, various peoples of Europe and of
Latin America fighting for freedom incorporated in their manifestos the
principles formulated in the Declaration of Independence.
The procedure by which the Declaration of Independence came into being was as
follows: On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, in the name of the Virginia
delegates to the Continental Congress, moved that “these united colonies are
and of right ought to be free and independent States, they are absolved from
all allegiance to the British

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