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The Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a union that would become a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence.