Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s noon here in New Hometown, Florida on Sunday, July 4, 2021, the 245th Independence Day in U.S. history. It Is a hot, summery day: the current temperature is 85˚F (30˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 54% and the wind blowing from the west-southwest at 8 MPH (12 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 94˚F (35˚C). Today’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 90˚F (32˚C). Tonight, we can expect partly cloudy skies. The low will be 73˚F (23˚C). The current Air Quality Index (AQI) is 50, or Good.
As I mentioned earlier, today is the Fourth of July, which is celebrated in the United States as “Independence Day” – the day on which the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, issued by the 13 colonies during the American Revolution to officially break away from Great Britain after a year of fighting, in Philadelphia back In 1776.
Although it took seven more years of fighting and the intervention of Louis XVI’s France and Charles II’s Spain on the Americans’ side, July 4 is considered by most folks to be “America’s Birthday.” John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the second President of the United States, thought at the time that July 2 (the day that the Declaration was signed) would be the true birth-date. He even wrote:
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. – Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, “Had a Declaration…” [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Per Scott Bomboy’s article, When is the real Independence Day: July 2 or July 4?in the Constitution Daily website of the National Constitution Center, here is why Adams thought July 2 would be celebrated from coast to coast as Independence Day:
Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, when it voted to approve a resolution submitted by delegate Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, declaring “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.”
After voting on independence on July 2, the Continental Congress then needed to draft a document explaining the move to the public. It had been proposed in draft form by the Committee of Five (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) and it took two days for the Congress to agree on the edits.
Once the Congress approved the actual Declaration of Independence document on July 4, it ordered that it be sent to a printer named John Dunlap. About 200 copies of the “Dunlap Broadside” version of the document were printed, with John Hancock’s name printed at the bottom. Today, 26 copies remain.
That is why the Declaration has the words, “IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776,” at its top, because that is the day the approved version was signed in Philadelphia.
So, basically, Congress voted to declare independence on July 2, but adopted the document written by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams on July 4.
American history is such a fascinating subject. Pity that it is – deliberately, in my opinion – taught so poorly and with so many omissions and distortions in elementary and secondary schools.
Happy 245th Birthday, United States of America. And here is to hoping that the country stays together long enough to celebrate its 250th year on July 4, 2026!