In the slow process of dismantling the history I was taught in high school, I have a few questions about the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence:
1.) Would it be correct to say that July 4 is not really the “birthdate of the nation” rather there was no nation or formal union to speak of but rather the 13 colonies simply declared their individual independence?
2.) I noticed the phrase “united States of America” (lower case “u”) was used twice in the document. In what sense was the word united meant? United in their declarations of independence, united in congress, united in some other sense, all of the above?
3.) Do you think it would be more appropriate to say that the birthdate of the country/nation/union (as we know it) would be the date on which the constitution was finally ratified?
1) Yes, it would be correct to say that. In fact, Virginians understood May 15, 1776 — the day that their revolutionary Convention adopted a resolution calling for adoption of a written republican constitution — as the date of their independence. For more on this story, see Maier’s AMERICAN SCRIPTURE and my VIRGINIA’S AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
2) United in the war effort and in declaring their independence.
3) The union “as we know it” is unlike what it was 50 years ago, let alone 150 years ago. I don’t know what to make of this question.
Thanks for the response. I am reading American Scripture now and I will put your book next on my list. By “as we know it” I meant the formal union under the Constitution as opposed to the union under the Articles of Confederation or the “union” under the Continental Congresses. On further inspection, I guess this question answers itself.