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As Washington's soldiers stood ready for the brigadiers and colonels of their regiments to read the Declaration of Independence, they first heard words written by their commander.Washington explained that Congress had "dissolved the connection" between "this country" and Great Britain and declared the "United Colonies of North America" to be "free and independent states." Next came Jefferson's stirring words explaining that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
He concluded that Americans would have to rely on the "Being who controls both Causes and Events to bring about his own determination," a sentiment which Washington shared.
For the commander-in-chief, who needed to lead his untrained army against Great Britain, the decision for independence came as welcome news, especially since his men would now fight not merely in defense of their colonies but for the birth of a new nation.
Since George III had trampled on these rights, as Jefferson argued in a long list of complaints against him, the people of the United States of America had the right to break the political bands that tied them to Great Britain and form a new government where the people would rule themselves.
The words were so moving that citizens who had heard the declaration raced down Broadway toward a large statue of George III.
On the evening of July 9, 1776, thousands of Continental soldiers who had come from Boston to defend New York City from the British marched to the parade grounds in Lower Manhattan.
General George Washington had ordered them to assemble promptly at six o'clock to hear a declaration approved by the Continental Congress calling for American independence from Great Britain.
Thomas Paine's Common Sense, published in January 1776, was sold by the thousands.
By the middle of May 1776, eight colonies had decided that they would support independence.
And in May 1776 the Congress learned that the King had negotiated treaties with German states to hire mercenaries to fight in America.
The weight of these actions combined to convince many Americans that the mother country was treating the colonies as a foreign entity.