Whether it’s barbecue with the family, spending the day at the beach, then watching the fireworks at night, American Independence Day on the 4th of July has always been a common tradition, probably one of the most popular holidays with families. Here are some facts you may not have known:
There’s History Here
John Adams wrote a letter to his wife on July 2, 1776, when the colonies were voting for independence. His excitement about the event is palpable as he writes about the day that should henceforth be “…solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games and sport, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.” Yes, you will notice the day of adoption became July 4th, different from the date of the letter. And of course, “Manifest Destiny” was a mere dream at the time, but his zeal to commemorate independence has lived on. What is “Manifest Destiny”? It was a 19th century doctrine-the phrase coined in 1845-that, according to the United States, it was believed to have been a God-given right to expand into and possess the whole of the North American continent. The words at the time were: “…to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our multiplying millions.”
The Resolution of Independence
The Second Continental Congress that set out to establish state governments–unconnected to Britain, was legally insignificant. But soon after, the Declaration of Independence was made necessary to establish the legitimacy of the new nation to other foreign governments. And there was an ulterior motive: what the new nation needed most, were supplies for its armies and a commitment of foreign military aid.
Many senior and elderly folks remember the old-fashioned Fourth as a time when a necessary component of the July 4th celebration was oratory. Speeches from windbag politicians were the highlight of the day.
July, the seventh month of the year, was named for Julius Caesar who organized the calendar.
Liberty Weekend, the centennial in 1986, marked a celebration of the Statute of Liberty and was ranked as glitzy and Hollywoodesque, but the promoters were quite happy with the outcome.
Did You Know?
That on July 4, 1776, on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, King George III of England wrote in his diary, “Nothing of importance happened today”?
Reference & Resource
Schmidt, Steffen W. et al. American Government and Politics Today, 1997, West/Wadsworth.