...all good political bodies interject, they appointed what was formally called a Committee of Five to draw up an official proposal, then they adjourned for 3 weeks. England was weary from what was called the Seven Years war, here in America it was known as the French and Indian War, when France allied with the Indians to fight the British in various locations in America. In addition to being weary from the wars, England had used up their treasure and was now broke. They decided that the high tariffs levied on the Colonies were the way to recoup their losses. Some of the original thirteen colonies thought King George would spare them such a burden but when he issued an edict approving the harsh taxes and proposed hiring Prussian mercenaries to keep the American Colonists in line, this convinced most of the people that Independence from the Crown was the way to go.
During the three weeks of adjournment, the Committee of Five—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, U.S. Senator from Connecticut and statesman, Robert Livingston, also a lawyer and businessman from New York came together to produce what we now know as the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson, who was thirty-three years old at the time, actually wrote the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Ben Franklin made some changes and Sherman and Livingston gave their approval. When congress met again on the First of July, 1776, the document was presented to the whole body. It was read and re-read and, after corrections were made, it was decided that it would be voted on the next day. It was approved by twelve of the thirteen, with New York abstaining.
So as of July 2, 1776 we were officially an independent country, The United States of America. When it was presented to the members of Congress, additional alterations were made and just before noon on July 4, 1776, the declaration was officially adopted. The authoring committee took it to their official printer and had enough copies made to distribute The Declaration of Independence to all members of Congress and all of their committees.
The Declaration of Independence was largely ignored after we won the Revolutionary War and the original document was lost. All that we have now are copies of the original. Years later, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as the basis for our Constitution and the second sentence is still recognized worldwide as the best know statement ever made on equality and human rights. It reads:
“We hold these truths to be self evident
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
A case could be made that we should actually be celebrating our independence day on the Second of July, the day of the first approval of the Declaration of Independence, but that would mean George M Cohan, who wrote Yankee Doodle Dandy would have written the lyrics “Born on July 2nd instead of “Born on the Fourth of July”…nah, we’ll keep it as is.
Besides, look at all the other things that happened on July 4th, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of the composers of the Declaration of Independence, and the only two Presidents who signed the document, both died on the same day, July 4th 1826, fifty years after its adoption. Another of our Presidents, who also worked so hard to keep us a republic, James Monroe died on the Fourth of July, 1831, making a total of 3 Presidents consecutively going to their maker on Independence Day.
The first few years after the Declaration of Independence became official, celebrations, some large and some small were held on the Fourth of July and my history book tells me that Massachusetts was the first State to make it a State Holiday. Around the turn of the Century, about 1800, the term Independence Day came into common usage as was seen in government documents for that time. Around 1869 until 1971 all employees of the Federal Government were given an unpaid Holiday on the Fourth of July so they could properly celebrate the holiday. However, it was not until 1938 or 1939 that Congress, at the urging of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, made the Fourth of July a paid Holiday.
Your Challenge - Consider our forefathers and the million and a half plus who have died in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness since the struggle began, and then e-mail or Facebook us to share what your idea of Freedom is on this, our Day of Independence, our Freedom Day.