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The United States of America were formally created by an act of the Second Continental Congress on this day in history, Sept. 9, 1776.
The congressional decree stated: “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.’”
“The moniker United States of America has remained since then as a symbol of freedom and independence,” states the National Constitution Center.
The phrase echoed a term first used with global consequence just two months earlier in the Declaration of Independence.
The document begins by stating that it is “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”
After enumerating a lengthy list of grievances against Great Britain, the 56 signatories stated: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America … solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
The Declaration of Independence remains today an international landmark on the road to human liberty.
The United States formally came into being while the young nation was barely clinging to survival.
The British had invaded Brooklyn less than three weeks earlier, with a dramatic amphibious landing at Gravesend Bay on August 22.
The Redcoats routed Gen. George Washington‘s troops in the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27.
His army survived only by escaping across the East River to Manhattan under the cover of darkness and a miraculously well-timed fog.
The Americans were badly routed through much of 1776, before Washington’s daring crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night led to surprise victory over Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, N.J.
“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,” writes History.com.
“Congress had created a country from a cluster of colonies and the nation’s new name reflected that reality.”