David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer
So I wanted to be the first to wish you a Happy Independence Day! So what are you going to do tonight to celebrate? Yes, that’s right… you heard me… Tonight
On July 2nd 1776 the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. On the table, a resolution brought before the congress by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia:
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.
That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.
…And on that day, July 2nd 1776, they approved the Resolution Of Independence… A free nation was proclaimed and the United States of America was formed. No fireworks, no cheering crowds, just a handful of men in Philadelphia knew what had happened.
John Adam’s, the nation’s future first vice president, wrote to his wife overjoyed with the momentous occasion:
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.
Sorry John, it didn’t exactly pan out like that. While the founding fathers made the bold move to break with England on the 2nd, the document which would actually do so needed to be cleaned up and re-worked before being unveiled to the public… Which occurred… you guessed it… July the 4th, 1776.
To top it off, John Hancock was the only one to sign that day (maybe that’s the other reason he signed so prominently, as to fill up the empty space). The other 55 delegates signed the document on August 2nd – I’ll remind you to celebrate then too – don’t worry.
Oh, and the British didn’t receive the declaration until January 1777…no blogs back then to post instantly.
So I guess with all these benchmarks in a nation’s break with England – we can split the difference and remember the moment on July 4th…
…But tonight, for John Adams sake, go outside, make your self a hot dog, grab a sparkler and wish your neighbor a Happy 2nd of July.
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