Yesterday, July 2, was the 241st anniversary of America’s independence. July 2? Is this historian displaying some historical ignorance here? Not at all. The actual vote for independence in the Continental Congress took place on July 2, not July 4. The 4th is celebrated for the acceptance of the official document, the Declaration of Independence, which is the rationale for what they did on July 2.
Many people today don’t know this fact because we have decided, for some reason, to focus on the Declaration itself.
John Adams, who was there on July 2 to vote in favor of independence, wrote to his wife on July 3, telling her what he hoped for the future of the new nation:
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.
Although he couldn’t see into the future with respect to which day we ended up celebrating, he was remarkably on target for what takes place on that day. He concluded his thoughts with these sobering words:
You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.
Again, he was correct. It was a costly decision to declare independence, but I agree with him that the end has been worth the toil, blood, and treasure expended.
These days, I’m not sure how many people, particularly in the younger generation, have any concept of what this movement toward liberty cost the Founders. I’m sure many have their facts confused.
Let’s strive to overcome the ignorance whenever we can. I’m grateful that the Lord gives me that opportunity every semester in the classroom.