Full and formal declaration adopted July 4, 1776, by representatives of the Thirteen Colonies in North America announcing the separation of those colonies from Great Britain and making them into the United States.
The battles in and around New York City in the summer and fall of 1776 had gone badly for the American revolutionaries. The British had taken the city and established posts across from New York in New Jersey and up the Hudson River. Meanwhile, General George Washington knew that the enlistments of many of his few remaining troops would end on December 31, 1776. He needed a victory both to support the patriot cause and to maintain his army.
Loyalists in the American War of Independence were those colonists who, by some public or covert actions, demonstrated their continued allegiance to Great Britain and opposition to government by the revolutionary authorities.