Congress renames the nation “United States of America” - HISTORY
Year
1776

Congress renames the nation “United States of America”

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

A resolution by Richard Henry Lee, which had been presented to Congress on June 7 and approved on July 2, 1776, issued the resolve, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States….” As a result, John Adams thought July 2 would be celebrated as “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted. That document also states, “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” However, Lee began with the line, while Jefferson saved it for the middle of his closing paragraph.

By September, the Declaration of Independence had been drafted, signed, printed and sent to Great Britain. What Congress had declared to be true on paper in July was clearly the case in practice, as Patriot blood was spilled against the British on the battlefields of Boston, Montreal, Quebec and New York. Congress had created a country from a cluster of colonies and the nation’s new name reflected that reality.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Riot at Attica prison

Prisoners riot and seize control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York. Later that day, state police retook most of the prison, but 1,281 convicts occupied an exercise field called D Yard, where they held 39 prison guards and employees ...read more

Chairman Mao dies

On this day in 1976, Chinese revolutionary and statesman Mao Zedong, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other health problems, dies in Beijing at the age of 82. The Communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China is considered one of the most ...read more

President’s child born in White House

Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland, gives birth to a daughter, Esther, in the White House.On June 2, 1886, in an intimate ceremony held in the Blue Room of the White House, President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom, the daughter of ...read more

Japanese bomb U.S. mainland

On this day in 1942, a Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon state forest-the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland in the war.Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state of Oregon and firebombed Mount ...read more

Ho Chi Minh buried in Hanoi

Funeral services, attended by 250,000 mourners, are held for Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Among those in attendance were Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, Chinese Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Ho had established the Indochinese ...read more

Hackney receives Medal of Honor

Sergeant Duane D. Hackney is presented with the Air Force Cross for bravery in rescuing an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He was the first living Air Force enlisted man to receive the award, the nation’s second highest award for bravery in action. ...read more

DeBellevue becomes leading American Ace

U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue (Weapons Systems Officer) flying with his pilot, Capt. John A. Madden, in a McDonnell Douglas F-4D, shoots down two MiG-19s near Hanoi. These were Captain DeBellevue’s fifth and sixth victories, which made him the leading American ace ...read more

Sandy Koufax pitches perfect game

On this day in 1965, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax pitches the eighth perfect game in major league history, leading the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.Sandy Koufax was a talented all-around athlete from Borough Park in ...read more

Cleveland baby born in White House

On this day in 1893, President Grover Cleveland’s wife Frances becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House when the couple’s daughter Esther is born. She remains the only child of a president to be born in the White House. After spending the first two years of ...read more

Powerful earthquake rocks Algeria

On this day in 1954, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Algeria, near Orleansville, killing 1,600 people. Another 5,000 people suffered serious injuries during the strong tremor and series of aftershocks that followed.The Cheliff River Valley features some of the best farmland in ...read more

The Boston police department goes on strike

The infamous Boston Police Strike of 1919 begins, causing an uproar around the nation and confirming the growing influence of unions on American life. Using the situation to their advantage, criminals took the opportunity to loot the city.As society changed in the 20th century, ...read more

Mao Zedong Dies

Mao Zedong, who led the Chinese people through a long revolution and then ruled the nation’s communist government from its establishment in 1949, dies. Along with V.I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao was one of the most significant communist figures of the Cold War. Mao was born in ...read more

Yankees capture Chattanooga

Union General William Rosecrans completes a brilliant campaign against the army of Confederate General Braxton Bragg when his forces capture Chattanooga, Tennessee.The capture of Chattanooga followed a campaign in which there was little fighting but much maneuvering. On June 23, ...read more