Independence Day is a holiday that every American celebrates, but the history of how this day came about is less well-known. Most know that Independence Day is officially recognized on July 4th each year. However, the Continental Congress actually voted to approve a resolution of independence from Great Britain two days earlier in 1776.
On July 2, 1776, the Pennsylvania Evening Post published: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States,” marking what many believed would be the day Americans celebrated for centuries to come. One of our Founding Fathers, John Adams, even wrote in a letter to his wife: “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.” He may have been two days off on the exact date, but his sentiments about the most meaningful holiday in our nation’s history still ring true 242 years later.
The history of Independence Day often glazes over the most important aspect of the events in July 1776: the courage of our Founding Fathers. By speaking out against the British monarchy, the signers put not just their lives, but their families’ lives on the line. They committed treason against their government and their king. God bless them for their bravery.
Imagine where our country would be today without the courage and the core principles they laid out in the Declaration of Independence. The document proclaims: “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.” Our Founding Fathers established the basis of our entire democracy in one radical document with 56 signatures that continues to guide the way our country is governed today.
John Adams expressed another opinion in the July 2nd letter to his wife. He wrote that Independence Day “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.” May God bless you and your family as you celebrate Independence Day with parades, shows, games, sports, bonfires, fireworks, and more this year and for many years in the future.