Hopefully, every American knows that the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 and we celebrate it because it marks the legal separation of the original Thirteen American colonies from Great Britain.
Things you may or may not know:
1. Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.
Can you imagine being the author of a document that would go on to serve as the bedrock of a nation? . . .Hearing something like, “Hey Tom, think you could write up something about all this? And try to keep it down to a page, okay?”
2. John Adams originally thought the 2nd of July would be the big day.
He writes to his wife, Abigail (I can’t help picturing them as Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney since watching the John Adams min-series):
“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. 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.” (“Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, ‘Had a Declaration…’”. Adams Family Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society.) He got the momentous occasion right, just not the exact date.
3. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July in 1826—on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
These two men were the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to become President of the United States. They both died on the 4th of July—a day that obviously had very personal significance for each–and in the same year. Maybe they said, “Okay, got our country to 50. Now, it’s time to rest. I’ve done my bit.”
4. The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence is now considered to be a major statement on Human Rights cited the world over.
“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.”
Whether you’re American or not, I hope we all take the above words from the Declaration to heart. Happy 4th everybody.
Question: Which of the above four things did you know? Anything you want to add?