On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. When the Revolutionary War first broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.
The Declaration of Independence changed things.
Thomas Jefferson, who was selected to come up with the draft, drew from George Mason’s Declaration of Rights and what he called an “expression of the American mind” — against the tyranny of Britain. When the congress first voted in favor of independence, John Adams wrote that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
I would pass on taking a modern-day-version of Adams with me to a Las Vegas casino. He’d would drive a gambler bonkers — close but no cigar. However, Adams wasn’t off by much. For these reasons and many others Independence Day is one of my favorite times of the year. Here’s a few of those reason:
We come together
Fox News ran a story this weekend suggesting that national pride in the U.S. is down. Fox News stinks. There I said it. The channel cares little about providing “fair and balanced” news, it plays to America’s basest fears, it seeks to tear apart, instead of informing or bringing together. Let me tell you a secret that Fox will never tell you, Republican’s love America and, yes, so do Democrats. Do Americans love everything about the country? Of course not. Current events, including the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade and violent assault rifle gun deaths to name two, have certainly frustrated and angered citizens on both sides of the aisle.
But Americans are still proud of the founding fathers taking a stand for liberty, freedom, justice, and fighting against oppression. If you would dig deeper and ask Americans if they’re proud of our freedoms (most importantly, freedom of speech); our stable government; our role as a world leader; and how we come together in times of need, you’d get a resounding “yes.”
We’re more alike than we are different.
Editing the best work
After Jefferson submitted his draft of the Declaration to Congress on June 28, members of the Continental Congress made 86 changes to the text, including shortening the length by more than a quarter.
Congress took out language condemning King George for his role in creating and promoting the slave trade (even though Jefferson had slaves of his own) and toned down some of Jefferson’s language to make the document less offensive to other British leaders.
Jefferson was precise in the powerful words that he used in the text. The words were strong and forceful and were chased specifically because they made the case for the colonies separating from British rule and oppression. He didn’t take these edits lying down. He called them “mutilations” against his well-thought and constructed prose.
As a writer, I love that Jefferson was angered that his work got edited. I love that he cared so much about his work that he felt slighted by the way Congress rewrote his masterpiece. Any strong writer would be upset.
In a letter to James Madison in 1823, Jefferson wrote that “during the debate, I was sitting by Dr. Franklin and he observed that I was writhing a little under the acrimonious criticisms” of Congress. I’ve felt that writhing before. I have one thing to say: “You go Thomas, give em’ Hell!”
Growing into the future
When the Declaration of Independence was signed in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, in the summer of 1776, the nation had a population of more than 2.5 million.
Oh, how times have changed.
Philadelphia has a population today of more than 5.7 million. Have you visited Southeastern Pennsylvania-based Wawa convenience store lately. One Wawa probably has more people coming-in and -out each day than the State House had in a month, forget about the U.S. with its population of more than 332 million.
I love that the Declaration of Independence still has meaning today.
A celebratory fourth
Independence Day is the most significant national holiday in the United States. Oh, I love other things about the day. I love the fireworks; hot dogs and hamburgers at the family BBQ; hometown parades; days at the beach. I love it all, but I still appreciate that we have a day all of our own.
Enjoy the day and make it a special one with family and friends.