The first 4th
POSTED: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 4:11pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 5:04pm
July 4th is more than hotdogs and parades.
It is the day we celebrate the declaration of our independence from Great Britain.
By the time the debates on independence began at what is now known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia in April of 1776, the American colonies had already been at war for a year.
The Boston Tea Party tax protest had come and gone. The Boston massacre inflamed public opinion.
The battles of Lexington and Concord and the shot heard round the world, along with bunker Hill were already history.
The Continental Congress argued over the issue of slavery, eventually leaving it out of the document.
They assigned the writing of it to a committee that included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and the Virginia delegate, Thomas Jefferson who would basically write the first draft.
The Congress then edited out about ¼ of the document, including the abolition of slavery.
On July 2, South Carolina reversed its position and voted for independence. In the Pennsylvania delegation, Dickinson and Robert Morris abstained, allowing the delegation to vote three-to-two in favor of independence. The tie in the Delaware delegation was broken by the timely arrival of the gravely ill Caesar Rodney, who voted for independence.
And on July 2nd, by 12 votes and one abstention from New York, Independence was declared.
Adams thought that would be the day of celebration stating… “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.”
On July 3rd, the final wording was approved, and on July 4th, 1776, the document was signed and sent to the printer, despite Adams disapproval of the word “inalienable.”
So, Adams was off by two days, and July 4th is forever the day we remember the document signed boldly by John Hancock and all the rest who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
Incidentally, Adams got his way.
When the Declaration was sent to the printer, the word was changed to unalienable.