Two hundred and thirty years ago this coming Sunday, a group of courageous men met in Philidelphia and changed history by declaring their independence from Great Britain. Yes, you read that right. Independence was declared on the Second of July. On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee proposed to the Second Continental Congress a resolution for the colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. The resolution, which is known as the Lee Resolution, was passed by the Congress on July 2. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3rd:
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 for evermore.
Two days after the Lee Resolution was passed, the Congress approved the Declaration of Independence which Thomas Jefferson had drafted, with minor assistance from the other four members of the Committee of Five. This is what we celebrate annually, in much the way that John Adams predicted.
Over the next seven years George Washington, not a signer of the Declaration, would lead the Continental Army and state militias in a struggle that would appear to any clear thinking observer to be unwinnable. Washington and his men battled the world’s most powerful military, harsh climates, and his own Congress up and down the eastern coast of America and finally to a little penisula jutting out into Chesapeake Bay: Yorktown. Even after the defeat of Cornwallis there in 1781, where the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down” during the surrender, it took two more years before the Treaty of Paris was finally signed; Britain finally recognizing the colonies as no longer under her grasp. It was the first time in recorded history that a colony threw off rule of it’s mother country and founded a brand new form of government.
So, let’s celebrate as John Adams predicted, even if we are two days late. And don’t forget the words of another wise man:
I normally don’t have a burger, a brat, and a steak, but it is the Fourth of July. And I’m going to need the energy if I’m going to be blowing crap up. It’s what the Founding Fathers would want.
Until next time…………………………
I would encourage you to actually read the Declaration of Independence. We all know what it is and maybe a few of us can recite the first seveb words of the preamble (We hold these truths to be self-evident), but do any of us really know what it says? Probably not. It will be a good exercise in American civics and you may even get a little better idea about why the founders felt such an historic and risky proposition was necessary. It isn’t long and we owe it to those who fought and died for it to know what it says.