32. Thomas Jefferson: An American Patriot

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There was a time on this land when the United States of America did not exist. Prior to the 1770s, the region was largely Indian country with the exception of 13 British colonies in the northeast part of the country. These colonies were known as the American Colonies, and were under British rule. The 13 colonies were a loosely connected group of individual states that were governed by the Continental Congress. The congress had been at odds against the British for several years, primarily because of the taxes that were being levied by their Parliament.

In 1775, after a year of war between the American colonies and England, the colonists decided it was time to become independent. The English Parliament had issued two unpopular taxes, which were imposed to help support the British after the end of the Seven Years War. The colonists asked Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence arguing that since the colonies had no voice in Parliament's matters, they should not be taxed.

The declaration was drafted by Jefferson on July 2, 1776, and was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4th. Today, July 4th is celebrated in the United States as the day of independence from British rule. The declaration features what has been called the most famous sentence in the English language. It reads: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." These words were written to represent the moral and ethical standards the new country was meant to follow. It is a beautifully written document, and it stands for all that this country tries to be.

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