It was once said that the sun would never set on the British Empire, however as nations have developed following their colonisation they have fought for independence from their rulers, declaring their nations better under home rule than that of a foreign power. Perhaps the most well-known declaration of independence is the American celebration of the fourth of July, also known as Independence Day.
However, the 4th of July isn’t the only day of independence that falls in the month. In fact, July is a busy month for nations declaring independence from their colonisers. With just under 25 days celebrating independence in July, that’s nearly a month of celebration across the world. Here are just a few of the days celebrated from around the globe.
July 4th 1776 - American independence from the British
Frustrated at the British rule, taxation on the colonies, and discrepancies between the rights of those born in the colonies, and those born in Britain, the Declaration of Independence was ratified on the 4th of July 1776. With the infamous words:
‘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.’
The declaration was a landmark document in the progression of equal human rights around the world. Drawing from Magna Carta, a British declaration that set the rights and laws of the land that all men must adhere to - including the king - the United States Declaration of Independence was drafted after America had already been at war with the Crown for over a year.
July 5th 1962 - Algeria from France
Following on from over a decade at war with the French, the Algerian Independence Day is a national holiday celebrated each year to commemorate the end of the Algerian war for independence and the birth of Algeria as an independent nation.
The war began in November 1954 and was particularly brutal. Drawn out for eight years, the war between the French Army and the guerilla militia united Algerians against colonialism. Following a ceasefire in early 1962, Algeria declared its independence from French colonialists in July later that year.
July 14th 1789 - Bastille Day - French revolution against the ruling monarchy
Despite the success of their intervention in the American revolution, back in mainland France, the people were growing restless. Their own monarchy was bankrupt and raising taxes, again and again, to try and recuperate what was lost in funding the war in America. Coupled with a bad harvest, the French people were starving and angry.
Following the raid on a nearby garrison, revolutionaries began forming outside of the Bastille, an archaic prison fortress. The Bastille had long been representative of the monarchy’s oppression of the French people, however, it had now fallen into a state of disrepair. Holding only 7 remaining prisoners, the fortress was being used to house a large cache of gunpowder and ammunition.
Despite numerous casualties, the revolutionaries overthrew the guards and took control of the fortress. A landmark moment, the storming of the Bastille is considered the start of the French Revolution that ultimately led to the downfall of the French monarchy.
July 26 - 1847 - Liberia from The American Colonization Society
Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society in West Africa. Following the emancipation from slave labour, people of colour in America still faced discrimination. In an effort to remedy the situation, the American Colonization Society used their encampment in Liberia to resettle black people - both born into slavery, and born free - believing that a form of repatriation would be the best option.
The reality, however, was that many of the ‘repatriated’ people that were relocated to Liberia had lived their whole life in America. Whether of mixed race or from their Americanised education - integration with the native Liberians didn’t come naturally to the relocated settlers.
On July 26th the settlers issued a declaration of independence from the American Colonization Society. The United Kingdom was the first to recognise the Republic of Liberia as independent, however, it wasn’t until the secession of the south and forming of the confederacy in 1862 that America recognised the independence of Liberia.