...or the Fourth of July, as
it's alternately known. Funny thing about that is that at least
three other dates would be much more appropriate to hang the
phrase "Independence Day" upon.
The only significant thing
that happened on July 4th, as a matter of fact, is that the Continental
Congress decided that Thomas Jefferson's wording of the Declaration
was Good Enough for the King, and grammatically OK as well.
My own somewhat belated nominees
for a more Historically Accurate Independence Day are June 7,
June 28, July 2, and July 8.
As you no doubt are aware,
the fact that an entire year passed between the first shots of
the Revolution and July 4, 1776 would seem to indicate that the
colonies initially had no desire whatsoever of becoming an Independent
Entity. The soldiers were simply fighting for a fairer shake
from Mother England.
The real Revolutionaries were
doing their fighting on paper. A relatively large scale propaganda
campaign was waged during that first year, spearheaded by Thomas
Paine's pamphlet "Common Sense", and it was only after
quite a lot of electioneering and debate that the idea of actually
separating began to be seriously entertained.
Yes, the American Revolution
was sold to the colonists -- which explains a lot of things when
you think about it...
Anyway, June 7, 1776 is the
day that Richard Henry Lee (relative of Robert E.) offered the
first resolution that the colonies declare themselves "free
and independent States". This resolution led eventually
to the writing of the Declaration of Independence--
Which was presented in the
form we know and revere to the Continental Congress on June 28,
Put that in your Fourth of
July and light it.
As if that weren't debunking
material aplenty, Independence was officially declared, not on
the 4th, but on the Second of July. In fairness, Congress did
approve Jefferson's wording of the thing on the Fourth, as previously
mentioned, but the first public reading of the Declaration of
Independence did not take place until July 8th, when a congressman
named John Nixon read the now immortal words to a "great
concourse of people".
At that time the King's Arms
(as in Coat of Arms, the King being geographically elsewhere)
were taken down and placed on a pile of casks, and burned amid
great rejoicing, huzzas, drinking, bonfires, ringing of bells,
firing of guns and cannons, etc.
And to quote Mrs. John Adams,
writing twelve days later: "Thus ends royal authority in
this State -- and all the people shall say Amen!"