The “United Colonies” Become “United States” 

U.S. #1543-46 commemorates the First Continental Congress, which met in 1774. The Second Continental Congress convened the following year to manage the war effort and declare independence, among other things.

On September 9, 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared that the United Colonies would now be known as the United States.

Richard Henry Lee may have been one of the first people to officially refer to America as the “United States.” On June 7, 1776, he submitted a resolution to Congress stating “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Congress approved his resolution on July 2 – a date future president John Adams believed would be one of the most celebrated in American history. However, the adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence two days later received that honor.

Jefferson is also largely credited with introducing the phrase “United States.” In the rough draft of his declaration, he included a headline that read, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in General Congress assembled.” This was changed in the final version to read, “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” His Declaration also stated “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” For these inclusions, Jefferson is often credited as having coined the phrase.

By September, the Declaration of Independence was drafted, signed, and sent to Great Britain. When Congress met on September 9, they decreed that they would no longer be known as the United Colonies, but that they were a new nation to forever be known as the United States of America.

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  1. One of the joys of stamp collecting is learning about history. Commemorative stamps are especially nice because they bring us back to earlier times and remind us of our history.

    1. I look forward to your daily history of each stamp. I am a stamp collector, but did not have details of the origin of every stamp. Most of my stamps have been purchased from Mystic. Thanks for meeting my stamping needs.

    2. I have this stamp on my red white and blue page, but never took time to see what it actually was. I love “THIS DAY IN HISTORY” so I can learn more and more each time. Thanks….CaroleLokanMoore PS I do Ben Franklin Stamp Club on an interactive television show every Friday. Go to and click on “Kids & Hobby ” Channel. there you will find me “CAMP WITH MRS. WHITEBRIAR, Mrs.Whitebriar is my television personality, and we start each 1/2 session by opening our meeting of the Ben Franklin Stamp club. Tune in…it’s free..

  2. I have always loved the history of the United States being born, raised. educated, living, family, employed, in Virginia. This stamp collection really takes me back down my early school days of the 20 th Century. Graduated in 1976

  3. At the time of the bicentennial of the US, David Frost (think it was Frost) did a comedy routine of what would have happened had Britain won the war for independence. Washington, DC would be known as Cornwallis, DC.

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