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Congress Renames the United States Colonies: This Week In History

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Happy Birthday, United States of America! We know it’s not July 2 or 4, but September 9, 1776, is actually the day that our country was officially named the “United States of America.” This new term replaced “United Colonies,” which is how the land was referenced in the Declaration of Independence.

Look closely at the Declaration of Independence and you’ll notice that it says “united States of America,” but united was being used as an adjective. It wasn’t until later that Congress found the phrase to have a certain ring to it. John Adams wrote the following message in the Journal of Congress:

“Monday September 9, 1776. Resolved, 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.”

There is much debate about who coined the name “United States of America.” The National Archives believes that the first known use of the formal term was in the Declaration of Independence, so they credit the name to Thomas Jefferson.

Check out what else happened this week in history or see the Declaration of Independence in person on a travel program to Washington, D.C.!


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