Independence – Are we Losing It?
Listening to the news as of late, it seems the world is burning…how do we stay emotionally calm, physically healthy and able to engage in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” promised to all Americans under so much chaos and confusion? I can’t find the answer … so I began to look to the past.
While pondering all of this, I compiled what I’ve learned and decided to walk off my usual beaten path and share a bit about the history of this special day.
Most of you, I’m sure, know that the 4th of July is a national holiday in the U.S., marking the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. It was first celebrated on July 8, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was not finished until August of that year, however, July 4th became the accepted Independence Day in the U.S.
Did you know…
The 4th, formally known as Independence Day, was not made a legal holiday until 1941!
Did you also know that two of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4th? U.S. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died 50 years after the signing, to the day. President James Monroe also died on the 4th, but in 1831. On July 4, 1872, President Calvin Coolidge was born.
The Thirteen Colonies
On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.
Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence. Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.
On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Discussions of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged.
The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock’s signed his name “with a great flourish” so England’s “King George can read that without spectacles!”
Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.
May we heal our nation and once again be the free and independent nation we were built to be.
Happy Independence Day to all!
On a lighter note, check out our Independence Day Recipes!