Today, July 2nd, we United States citizens celebrate our independence.
Wait you say, “Isn’t July 4th our independence day, not July 2nd?”
We celebrate on July 4th because of a little thing called the Declaration of Independence. The document was passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th. In fact, what we know of the signing, it was done by individuals over the next month with little drama. The real drama happened on July 2nd when it was voted upon by the delegates.
On July 2nd, 1776 the Second Continental Congress debated independence at the State House in Philadelphia. Twelve of the thirteen delegates voted for independence with one abstaining. The scene was tense with debate and their lives were on the line. We are here today because of the courage of those few. Each man knew that by voting and putting their name on this document would seal their fate if captured by the British.
This voting scene is best captured by the HBO Miniseries John Adams (2008).
In the Pulitzer Prize winning book John Adams, David McCullough noted the momentous occasion.
“So, it was done, the break was made, in words at least: on July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence. If not all thirteen clocks had struck as one, twelve had, and with the other silent, the effect was the same.
It was John Adams, more than anyone, who had made it happen. Further, he seems to have understood more clearly than any what a momentous day it was and in the privacy of two long letters to Abigail, he poured out his feelings as did no one else:
The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha 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.”
So whether we celebrate our independence on July 2nd or July 4th, we should all thankful that we are celebrating in the way our founding father John Adams envisioned.
Happy Independence Day!