About 30 years ago my husband and I lived in England for 3 years. One summer we decided to have a July 4th picnic.....to celebrate our independence from the British. We invited all the people that my husband worked with. As usual, It rained and rained every day preceding the party. (Actually, it probably rained for weeks, but I don’t remember.) We were stressing about the weather (a regular occurrence while we lived there) because a picnic inside is not so much fun. The morning of the picnic it was cloudy and overcast but, the sun came out just in time. My husband, jokingly said, ‘You see, God IS an American!’ I still laugh at that comment. And, I laugh that we were celebrating our independence with the people we wanted to be independent from.
I have lived for 66 July 4th’s. Fireworks. Picnics. Barbecues. Pool parties. Family get togethers. Red, white, and blue. Parades. Stars and Stripes bathing suits (I have always wanted one but never made the splurge). But, I have really never given much thought to the reason for the celebration. Yes, our independence from England. But what else, and more importantly, why. What exactly does Independence Day mean?
A few facts for you….did you know?
In 1774, the year before the Revolutionary War began, Parliament (England’s congress) was passing laws in order to tax the American Colonists. There was the Sugar Act in 1764 and the Stamp Act in 1765. As well as, other various laws in order to get money for Great Britain from the colonists.
Great Britain had a huge debt that had to be paid because of the French and Indian war, which ended in 1763. Parliament said that the war was fought to protect the American subjects from the French in Canada and it was their right to tax the colonists to help pay the bills from the war.
The colonists disagreed. They felt that England had fought the war to strengthen its own empire and financial gain. And that since they could not take part in voting for the members of Parliament, they felt that they were not represented in Parliament. Hence the phrase ‘No taxation without representation’.
In April 1775 British soldiers, called lobsterbacks because of their red coats, and minutemen, a member of the American militia who was to be ready for service ‘at a minute’s notice’, exchanged gunfire in Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. This was described as ‘the shot heard round the world’. It signaled the start of the American Revolution.
The main purpose of America's Declaration of Independence was to explain to foreign nations why the colonies had chosen to separate themselves from Great Britain. The Revolutionary War had already begun, and several major battles had already taken place.
The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776. It included 86 changes made by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others.
On July 2nd 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. It severed their political connections to Great Britain.
On that same day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 ‘will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival’ and that the celebration should include ‘Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.’ (Fun Fact - he held onto his July 2nd day of celebration - not the 4th - for as long as he lived).
2 days later, on July 4th, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. It was formally adopted by the Continental Congress on that day.
July 4th became a national holiday in 1870.
In 1941 a paid holiday was granted to all federal employees
Whew - alot of facts there. I tried to simplify them. It has been a million (at least) years since I was in school. And, if memory serves me correctly, since I moved about 10 times growing up, I skipped all American History and learned the Republics of Africa about 5 times! So, maybe in my defense, I never even learned it at all!
What are your plans?
We will be celebrating the 4th at a clubhouse in our neighborhood. They have a great barbecue and some awesome and very LOUD fireworks. I can’t wait. Since the 4th is on a Thursday this year my children all have to work on Friday. A few of them will be coming out on Saturday for the weekend. We will have a picnic and swim in the lake - looking forward to that too.
In the past we decorated our golf cart and took part in a very fun parade. Our little puppy even got in the action!
What are your plans? Anything fun or are you working like my children? I would love to hear - post in the comments below.
The Declaration of Independence…..
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…. Want to read the rest? - check it out HERE.
And, did you know that, years later, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed on how and who was to draft the document and what was to be written? Personally, I found that fascinating. Check out - Jefferson and Adams here.
Enjoy your 4th. Stay safe. Let the experts light the fireworks. Remember, sparklers are fire too - they get hot and throw sparks (which can catch things on fire - ask me how I know this!?). Don’t drink and drive - including a boat or jet ski.