Yesterday was America’s birthday! America’s independence from the rule of Great Britain was declared on July 4th, 1776, two hundred thirty eight years ago. As we reflect on this milestone, we are reminded of those principles upon which our nation is founded.
George Washington said; “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
Patrick Henry said; “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us……is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
As the colonists became more and more upset with Great Britain for unjust taxation without representation, acts of rebellion began in 1774. After one full year of trying to resolve the taxation issues with Great Britain, full-fledged acts of rebellion and fighting began at Lexington and Concord in April 1774. By April 1775 the colonist Patriots had full control of all thirteen colonies. In May, 1776, the colonists sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress where a committee was formed to compose a formal Declaration of Independence, headed by Thomas Jefferson. Other committee members included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Phillip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to congress on June 28, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence and the Revolutionary War began. The fifty six signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign the declaration on July 4, 1776. Officially the first 50 signatures were added on the 2nd of August 1776. The last man to add his name to the document was Thomas McKean in January 1777. The signer’s names were withheld from the public for more than six months to protect the signers because if independence had not been won, they would have been tried and put to death for treason.
While congress was occupied with the Revolutionary War, the first Independence Day was celebrated in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, when the Liberty Bell first sounded from the tower of Independence Hall. It rang to summon the citizens to gather for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence as read by Colonel John Nixon.
Legend has it that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in May or June 1776. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress in a declaration intended to promote national pride, adopted the national flag; ”Resolved; that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing the new constellation.”
Historians tell us that George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the second anniversary of independence in 1778.
With the valuable aid of France, Spain and the Dutch Republic, the Revolutionary War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784. Our founding fathers believed in celebrating our independence with fireworks. John Adams in a letter to his wife stated that the holiday deserves to be celebrated with “illuminations” or fireworks. “The day will be most memorable 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 solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
July 4th is one of the few federal holidays that has not be moved to the nearest Friday of Monday. While many states declared the 4th of July as a state holiday, it was not until July 4, 1941 that it was declared a federal holiday
The unofficial theme song for Independence Day was first played on July 4, 1897. On that Sunday afternoon, John Philip Sousa cued his band as he lifted his baton to play his latest hit, ’The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Since that day Sousa’s beloved song has been played by marching bands in 4th of July parades all across the nation.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not always agree with one another, but they had a profound love and respect for one another and for the nation they worked so hard to found. Both died on July 4th, 1826.
As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, let’s remember the importance of this special day and those brave men who put their lives and property on the line to insure our freedom.
For now, Earlynn’s just sayin’: “I thank God for this great nation and for the bounty it has provided for me and you and the whole world. May we always remember our roots and give thanks and praise to our Almighty God for his hand in framing this nation.”
To order your copy of Earlynn’s book, Transformed, just click on the above tab, ‘Earlynn’s Book’. Thank you. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo