America declared its independence from Britain in 1776, only for New York City to become a British stronghold for years. New York’s true independence day is November 25, 1783, the day the Brits sailed out of New York harbor.
In fact, on July 4, 1776, tensions were at their highest, but a major assault on the city had yet to happen. Washington’s forces were in the city, bracing for an attack. He knew a declaration was being drafted in Philadelphia and wasn’t sure how his fragile army would react. Many might flee and return to their homes.
It wasn’t until two days later, on July 6, when Washington read a copy of the Declaration on the grassy commons that is today’s City Hall that his fears of troop abandonment left him. The angered men sped down to Bowling Green and ripped down the statue of King George.
I wouldn’t recommend ripping down any statues tomorrow, although I totally respect your intentions. But if you’re looking for a primer on the British attack of New York City and the subsequent occupation, give our old podcasts on the British Invasion of 1776 and life in British New York a listen (by downloading them from iTunes) while walking around downtown Manhattan.
Everybody have a safe and fantastic holiday weekend!