Today is July 4th - Independence Day in America! The day we declared our independence from that tyrannical empire known as Britain! We celebrate with fireworks and picnics - bands and reenactments - parties and sparklers - parades and American flag shirts...but what would the Founding Fathers think of this great hoopla? Well lucky for us we don't have to guess! In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote exactly how he thought this momentous occasion would be celebrated:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more
Ah yes - July 2, 1776... "the most memorable epoch in the history of America!" So why did John Adams think July 2 was so important and why do we celebrate on July 4?! Well let's take a step back into 1776 and see.
July 2, 1776
On this day, the Second Continental Congress voted and passed the Lee Resolution. The Lee Resolution was named after a man named Richard Henry Lee who had suggested in June that Congress declare independence from Britain. The Lee Resolution officially stated that the 13 Colonies were a legally separate entity. So technically, July 2 is the day we claimed Independence.
The Continental Dream Team
Although Congress had passed the Lee Resolution, they felt the need to craft a statement that explained their decision. They wanted it to be very clear as to their reasoning for claiming independence. So they got a small group of men together named the "Committee of Five" (or as I like to call them "the Continental Dream Team") to write a sort explanation for the passing of the Lee Resolution. You may know it better by its official name: The Declaration of Independence.
July 4, 1776
On this day, the Second Continental Congress approved the Committee of Five's Declaration of Independence. This highly publicized document was dated July,4. Americans clung to the date and since 1777 - we have celebrated our Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July!
So today as you go about your festivities - celebrate as John Adams had hoped our Independence would be celebrated...and if someone corrects you for calling today the 4th of July instead of Independence day, then by all means explain yourself. Declare it boldly...like a good Patriot would do!