Mountain View Medical Supply

Monday, June 30, 2014

Indepenence Day in America!

Did you know John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American Independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest?

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.  By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine’s bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published in January 1776.  Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” played a remarkable role in transforming a colonial squabble into the American Revolution.  This 47-page pamphlet sold some 500,000 copies (the population was estimated to be 2,500,000 in 1776), powerfully influencing American opinion when Paine wrote the following:  “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

On June 7, 1776, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.  Amid heated debate, Congress postponed vote on the motion and appointed a five-man committee – including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York – to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively).  On that 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.”

On July 4th, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.  Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.
In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.  Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

Note of interest: The population in America in 1776 was estimated to be 2.5 million.  In President George Washington’s first term in office, he had only 5 Cabinet members and about 1,000 federal workers in his employ.  Today almost 2.5 million Americans work for the federal government with a total U.S. population of approximately 317 million.

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