Before the American Revolution and independence of the American Colonies from the British Crown, over 100 years of history occurred leading up to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. 

The Spanish were among the first Europeans to explore the new world prior to Britain's rule. The first colony was founded in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Thirteen years later, the pilgrims founded Plymouth, Massachusetts, after arriving in 1620 to escape religious persecution. A pilgrim is a person who goes on a long journey, often with a religious or moral purpose, and especially to a foreign land. The pilgrims shared a fervent Protestant faith that directed their lives and led them to make the treacherous trip to America. This trip came after pilgrims had already fled to the Netherlands and experienced hardships. Moving to the Netherlands meant leaving their homes, friends and belongings behind to live in a foreign country with no real idea how they would provide for their families. After roughly ten years, tensions began to arise in the Netherlands, and the congregation of pilgrims decided to move to America. 

It took  much negotiation between the pilgrims and England, but finally an agreement was reached that would allow the pilgrims to set sail for the new world that involved investments and restrictions. Investors rented vessels to complete the voyage, the Mayflower and Speedwell. However, the Speedwell would prove unfit to make the voyage and was eventually put out of commission after leaking and returning to England twice.
The Mayflower did complete the long trip and arrived in New England on Nov. 11, 1620, after a grueling voyage that lasted 66 days with 102 passengers.

William Bradford stated, “Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together.”

The settlement also proved to be grueling and  only 52 people survived the first year in Plymouth. Lack of shelter and a limited diet weakened their immunity. Two and three people were dying a day due to scurvy and pneumonia; to what end? Governor William Bradford alludes to the heartache that would be faced in the New World when writing about the pilgrims’ departure from Holland to come to America, saying, "They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country; and quieted their spirits.”

What Bradford and the pilgrims knew was their faith, along with God's divine intervention, would sustain them through the difficulties faced as they fought to establish a place of freedom where the Creator could be worshiped with out the restrictions of man. This belief system coupled with hard work would lead to a treaty with the native people and the first harvest, a three-day celebration. 

Before the Declaration of Independence:
• “They were a most unusual group of colonists. Instead of noblemen, craftsmen, and servants -
 the types of people who had founded Jamestown in Virginia - these were, 
for the most part, families - men, women, and children who were
 willing to endure almost anything if it meant they could worship as they pleased.”
— Nathaniel Philbrick

Over the next six years, English colonists continued to arrive and reunite with their families. A stable and comfortable colony came to fruition, and by 1627 roughly 160 people lived in the Plymouth Colony. By the 1700s, most of the settlements had formed into 13 British colonies: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Although each state had its constitution, the 13 colonies united to free themselves from Britain's rule, and a union was to be formed. 
Patrick Henry was a leader who believed in the necessity of separation from the British Crown.  At the Second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia on Mar. 23, 1775, Henry is credited with a speech said to be "one of the boldest, vehement and animated pieces of eloquence that had ever been delivered,"  stated by a spectator in the crowd. With war against Great Britain looming, Henry made a declaration full of passion that will live endlessly in American history, stating, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

It was the sentiment the pilgrims shared. Although their lives were at stake when leaving England behind, their liberty was worth it. 
Over a century later after the pilgrims faced oppression at the hands of the Government and sought a new life, the future generations of colonists would again have to make a tough decision. A decision in the name of freedom that would come at the cost of bloodshed. 

It was a time when America refused to accept complacency or compromise the freedoms fought for by past generations, no matter the cost. It was a time in history when Americans knew what liberty meant, "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views,” and were willing to lay their lives down in honor of such freedoms.

 On July 4, 1776, these ideals became a reality with creating the United States of America. And in an extraordinary act of bravery and patriotism, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence. Our founding fathers knew of the significant challenges before them. Amid a war against the most powerful military in the world, the United States endured a long and arduous conflict to keep a fledging nation alive.

“The hour is fast approaching on which the honour and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country depend. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of liberty… that slavery will be your portion… if you do not acquit yourselves like men,” George Washington, 1776.

The words spoken by our first President, George Washington, in 1776 were spoken during the birthing of our great nation and alluded to the sacrifices needed by Americans to ensure freedom for all.