History: July 2 sold short
John Adams, America’s first vice president, who eventually would become this nation’s second president, did not believe today’s date — July 4 — should be celebrated as Independence Day.
On July 3, 1776, he wrote to his wife, Abigail, that “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 forever more.”
Of course, Adams’ prediction didn’t materialize. July 2 passes each year without most people being aware of the date’s historical significance.
In terms of historical significance, though, July 2 ought to, in fact, kick off a three-day national celebration, rather than merely be a day when people are finalizing plans or otherwise gearing up for today’s “real” Independence holiday.
Perhaps if Americans of today generally realized the recognition that July 2 has deserved over the course of this nation’s 243-year-long history, many communities would by now have a deep-rooted history of engaging in a three-day celebration culminating in the activities synonymous with today’s date.
The historical basis for July 2 to be, as Adams wrote, “a memorable epoch” is that it was on that date in 1776 that the Continental Congress voted to declare independence. However, it was not until two days later that independence actually was declared — with Americans, from the outset, choosing to celebrate the anniversary of independence on the latter date.
No problem, although during political speeches on this national holiday, it would be notable and appropriate if speakers provided a broader picture of the happenings tied to this nation’s official formation — that evoking this country’s independence involved much more than July 4 alone could accomplish.
Independence Day is a good time for an informal refresher “course.” Every American should have at least a general understanding of how this country has reached the current point in its history.
Amid these divisive times, many Americans don’t know, or choose not to reflect on the fact, that freeing America from England in 1776 was not a unanimous opinion in the 13 colonies. Many people were fearful about the potential consequences of trying to break away, and over the course of the next few years, those fears were confirmed.
Indeed, as the Revolutionary War raged on, some people were reconsidering their initial support.
Whether or not you think that this national holiday should be accorded a bigger, lengthier celebration, appreciate what the Founding Fathers accomplished. Appreciate what that Declaration has meant to your life, existence and opportunities.