The history of the 4th of July

Last week was the 4th of July, or US Independence Day.

The IT Countrey Justice has done an extensive blog on the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson. Students of history should read the whole thing. Some of my favourites include this Thomas Jefferson quote:

Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.

And about why it is 4th July:

The resolution of independence had been adopted with twelve affirmative votes and one abstention. With this, the colonies had officially severed political ties with Great Britain. In a now-famous letter written to his wife on the following day, John Adams predicted that July 2 would become a great American holiday. Adams thought that the vote for independence would be commemorated; he did not foresee that Americans—including himself—would instead celebrate Independence Day on the date that the announcement of that act was finalized.

I find it funny that even back then, the day of the official PR announcement was more important than the actual day of the decision to vote for independence.

To be fair of course back then communications were so different, than it is in hindsight quite normal, it would have been the day people heard of the decision that became the important one. Then we have the best part of the declaration:

“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. 

The Countrey Justice states:

The form is almost poetical, and it seems that the preamble was designed to be read aloud, its ringing phraseology building to an emotional yet reasonable crescendo

It is a masterpiece of oratory. I see the John Adams mini-series has started again on Sky. I highly recommend it for people who want to capture a sense of the revolution that changed the world.

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