Though the Declaration of Independence, which declares the United States’ separation from Great Britain, was adopted 235 years ago in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776—it was here in White Plains that it was publicly read for the first time.
On July 9, 1776, the fourth Provincial Congress met at the first county courthouse—now the White Plains Armory, located on the corner of South Broadway and Mitchell Place. The says this was the day that White Plains became the birthplace of New York State, as the charter creating New York State was signed.
With the New York Convention’s support given that day, all 13 colonies signified the declaration’s approval, according to The Library of Congress. On July 11, the declaration was read on the steps of the courthouse by Gen. John Thomas of Rye.
The courthouse was burned down along with the village on Nov. 4, 1776, after the Battle of White Plains, against then Gen. George Washington’s orders, according to the White Plains Historical Society.
The Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a monument, topped with a large eagle on June 14, 1910, to commemorate the courthouse—where on July 10, 1976 the Provincial Congress declared “the passing of the dependent colony and the birth of the independent state of New York,” according to the monument.
Here is our favorite part of the Declaration of Independence:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Happy Independence Day!