The Fourth of July marks the day in 1776 when delegates from the thirteen colonies approved the Declaration of Independence. Interestingly, John Adams, who would become the second president of the United States, had written his wife Abigail a letter the day before telling her what an auspicious day July 2nd had been.
Wait a minute. If John Adams was supposed to be such a brilliant statesman, why did he mess up such a key date in American history?
Well, the Second Continental Congress actually made its decree for freedom on July 2, 1776, by signing the Lee Resolution. A couple days of bickering over the fine points of the document ensued, and two days later, on July 4, Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence and the alarm for freedom was sounded at Independence Hall with the Liberty Bell. The document wasn’t actually signed until August 4, 1776.
John Adams wrote a letter to his wife on July 3 after the Lee Resolution was signed, assuming that would be the big historical milestone. The following is an excerpt from that letter.
Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony “that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States might rightfully do…
…The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
John Adams had an incredible vision for our country, didn’t he? He could see the “Rays of ravishing Light and Glory” that would be the United States of America. We have our share of problems, but the US is the best place to live in the world. Freedom still rings!
Here are a couple fun factoids about Independence Day:
- The population of the United States in 1776 was about 2.5 million. On its 238th birthday, the US population is estimated at 318.4 million. That’s a 12,636 percent increase! I don’t think the signers of the Declaration of Independence could have possibly imagined what they began that sultry day in Philadelphia.
- Three of the first five US presidents died on July 4! What are the odds of that? John Adams (92) and Thomas Jefferson (83), once political adversaries, both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the country’s birth. Ironically Adams’ last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” not knowing that Jefferson had died that morning. James Monroe, the fifth president, died five years later in 1831. Wow… not THAT is auspicious.
Enjoy the fireworks, but never forget what our forefathers (and foremothers) sacrificed to make this country great!
Until next time,