On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress took the first step toward American independence by announcing their decision to open all American ports to international trade with any part of the world that was not under British rule.
It was the first act of independence by the Continental Congress that had so openly and publicly rejected the American Prohibitory Act passed by the British parliament in December 1775. The act was designed to punish the American colonies for the rebellion against the King and British rule, which had begun with the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April 1775 by banning all British trade with America. It was, in essence, a declaration of economic warfare by Great Britain. For its part, the Continental Congress' decision to open all ports to any country but those ruled by Britain constituted America's declaration of economic independence.