Happy Independence Day!
Did you know that July 2nd was the day Richard Henry Lee's motion for independence was approved by the continental congress? Richard Henry Lee, the representative from Virginia, put this motion forth on June 2, 1776 - which seemed radical at the time to most.
In June, Continental Congress declined to vote, but put together 5 men to write a formal statement of justification for separation. They were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin and Robert R. Livingston.
John Adams penned a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams on July 3rd, 1776 in which he made the following declaration.
"[continuing] But the day is past. 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, forevermore.
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 triumph in that day’s transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not
He would be off by 2 days, as it was settled that July 4th would be the day of celebration in the history books, when a majority vote formally adopted the Declaration of Independence that day, mostly written by Thomas Jefferson.
Philadelphia (and Bristol, Rhode Island) were the first to celebrate our independence, while congress was still heavily occupied by the ensuing Revolutionary war in 1777.
The revolutionary war didn't conclude in the United States until 1782 when the defeat at Yorktown turned British Parliament away from campaigns in North America, but their war against France and Spain continued until 1783.
It took from roughly the end of 1773 (the Boston Tea Party) to 1782 to gain, and keep, our independence as a nation marking the first time the British had lost an empire. Although technically, the revolutionary war didn't begin until 1775, and didn't end until 1783.
In April of 1775, the British attempted to seize guns and gun powder which ticked up to the Battles of Lexington, Concord and Middlesex county, and continental congress appointed General George Washington to take charge of the militia units who were attempting to force the British out of Boston.
George Washington enlisted the help of Henry Knox, who had snuck out of Boston and joined the militia, to retrieve 60 tons
of Cannons from Ticonderoga and Crown Point in upstate New York. Knox is credited for the idea and he hauled them to Boston, 300 miles, on ox drawn sleds. He reached Ticonderoga on December 5th! He and a team drug them back over ice, snow and frozen rivers.. even retrieving cannons that fell through the ice, arriving in Boston on January 27, 1776. The cannons were immediately deployed, and this turn of events forced the British to leave Boston. An amazing feat of true grit.
Celebration Tid Bits:
In 1778, George Washington gave his troops double rum to mark the anniversary.
In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.
Did you know that July 4th wasn't a federal holiday until 1870 (unpaid), and in 1938, congress changed July 4th to a paid federal holiday.
, Seward, Nebraska has held their celebrations in the same town square, to be designated in 1979 as "America's Official Fourth Of July City" - the town of 4000 swells to 40,000+ during July 4th.
You can still catch the Boston Pops Orchestra music and fireworks show, which has taken place annually since 1973, now with only the last hour broadcast nationwide on CBS, and from what I understand, in 2016 they are increasing coverage by 2 hours.
Happy Independence Day my fellow American's!!