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US Independence Day timeline

The Independence Day timeline explains the context that led up to the Declaration on Independence being adopted on 4th of July 1776.

Jul 17, 2020

6 min read

Last updated on July 03, 2022

An official federal holiday since 1941, Independence Day (also known as the Fourth of July) commemorates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Through this historic document, the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America declared they were no longer subject to the British monarchy, but acted now as united, free, and independent states.

Since then, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence through festivities that range from fireworks, parades, baseball games and concerts to more casual family reunions, fairs, and picnics.

To honor this important event, we created this blog post which includes an abridged visual timeline of the US Independence Day history, as well as the answers to the most popular questions about the holiday.

History of US Independence Day: a timeline

History of US Independence Day: a timeline

  • 1763: The Proclamation
  • 1765: The Stamp and Quartering Acts
  • 1766: The Declaratory Act
  • 1767: The Townshend Acts
  • 1770: The Boston Massacre
  • 1773: The Boston Tea Party and Tea Act
  • 1774: The First Continental Congress
  • 1774: The Coercive Acts
  • 1775: Patrick Henry’s speech
  • 1775: The Lexington and Concord battles, Paul Revere’s ride
  • 1775: The Battle of Bunker Hill
  • 1776: George Washington’s crossing of Delaware
  • 1776: “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine is published
  • 1776: Nathan Hale’s execution
  • July 2, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is drafted
  • July 4, 1776: The Second Continental Congress ratifies the Declaration of Independence
  • 1777: The colonists’ victory against the British at Saratoga
  • 1778: The US ally with France
  • 1780: Benedict Arnold’s treason
  • 1781: Articles of Confederation are approved as first frame of government for the US
  • 1781: the Siege of Yorktown

Bonus timeline: the 13 American colonies in order of founding

The first colony to be founded by English settlers on the North American territory was on the Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina, in the 1580s. The settlers stayed for a year then returned home. A second group arrived here in 1587, but they mysteriously disappeared.

Over the course of the next century, the English established 13 colonies: Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Get a quick view of the chronological order in which the first English colonies were founded on American soil with our condensed visual timeline below:

Settling of US colonies: a timeline

FAQs about US Independence Day

Get a concise overview of the most relevant facts about US Independence Day with the help of our short answers to the most frequent questions asked on the topic.

About the Independence Day timeline

The Independence Day and US Colonies timelines were created with Office Timeline and are available to download as fully customizable PowerPoint slides. Office Timeline is an intuitive and versatile PowerPoint add-in that can help you create beautiful graphics like roadmaps, swimlane diagrams or Gantt charts within minutes. Download the free trial  and find out how quick and easy it is to create or update your own historical timeline.

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