On this day in 1776, this new nation is renamed the “United States” of America, replacing “United Colonies.”
We find the formal declaration in an excerpt from a Continental Congress Journal entry, written by John Adams:
“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.”
The debate about who exactly coined the name “United States of America” is unsettled. Still, the designation first formally appears twice in the Declaration of Independence. As such, the National Archives credits the name to Thomas Jefferson, the primary draftsman of the document.
Indeed, John Adams was one of the five statesmen on that ‘Declaration Comittee,’ pictured below. Benjamin Franklin was also on that outstanding committee.
Regardless, the exact origin of the name is irrelevant in comparison the overall intent of our founders.
Pulling Down Strongholds
The Declaration of Independence states:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;”
Less than three months prior, Mr. Adams wrote this as part of letter to his cousin, Zabdiel:
“Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. . . . The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.—They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.—You cannot therefore be more pleasantly, or usefully employed than in the Way of your Profession, pulling down the Strong Holds of Satan.”