Fourth of July is no joke here in the United States: we take this holiday serious. Now whether that is because of the smell of BBQ cooking, the incredible firework shows, cold beer or the fact that we get to experience all of the above on a paid holiday, that’s up to you to decide, but either way, it’s one of the most patriotic holidays celebrated in the United States.
But before sparklers, yankee doodle-dandy or town fairs were associated with this day, a committee of five men, including Thomas Jefferson, wrote a statement explaining what the resolution of independence was, called the Declaration of Independence, which declared independence from Great Britain in 1776.
Pictured on top from left to right are: Jennifer Smith, DT Alliance Coordinator and Shea Rax, DT Steel Drafter. Bottom row includes: Jackie Spain, Technical Service Assist., Brooke Brackett, Marketing Cooridnator and Desiree Hunter, Steel Drafter.
Although we celebrate our independence from Great Britain on this day, July 4th, the United States was not technically independent yet when the Declaration of Independence was first adopted. When the 13 colonies first settled, they were allowed to develop freely without much interference from Great Britain, but that changed in 1763 when Britain decided to start taking more control over the colonies. Ever heard the phrase “no taxation without representation”?
This saying was derived when Britain decided that the colonies needed to return revenue to the “mother country” and pay for the colonies’ defense. However, the colonies did not agree since they were not being represented in Parliament, and considered it to be tyranny: no taxation without representation.
After Britain continued to tax, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress in order to persuade Britain to recognize their rights. Well, we know how this turned out: they said no and the American Revolution began. After things started to heat up, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin and others called Sons of Liberty, decided that it was time to unite the colonies to stand together against the British government.
During the American Revolution, a second Congenital Congress was formed and it was then that they adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. All 13 colonies stood behind this declaration, which was approved on July 4, 1776. Although we declared independence, the American Revolution was still being fought, which meant the US was not independent just yet. But after the war ended in 1783, the fourth of July became a highly celebrated holiday in the US.
We often get wrapped up more in the “celebrating” rather than actually remembering why. It’s important that, as a country, we all know and understand our history. The section below is an excerpt from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.
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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The Declaration of Independence serves as a reminder to not lose sight of what our forefathers learned, documented and handed down to generations in the hopes that we don’t make the same mistakes again. History isn’t just a class in school, but real life accounts.
So to make learning a little more interesting, let’s play a quick game of true or false to test your knowledge.
1. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826.
True. They both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
2. In 1870, the US Congress made Independence Day a paid holiday for federal employees.
False. In 1870 it was declared an unpaid holiday, but then changed to a paid holiday in 1938.
3. Fifty-nine places in the US contain the word “liberty” in the name.
True. Four are counties; Liberty County, Ga, Liberty County, Fla., Liberty County, Mont. And Liberty County, Tex.
4. There were a total of 46 signers to the Declaration of Independence.
False. There were 56.
5. The term “John Hancock,” a synonym for signature, was originated because John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, was the first signer.
True and False. He was the first signer and the synonym was derived from his name, however this came about because his signature was so large that it is still one of the largest and most famous signatures in history.