The 4th of July - More Than Burgers, Beers and Fireworks.
Any third grader knows the basic history behind the 4th of July. The Thirteen Colonies, that would eventually make up the original United States of America, rebelled against the tyranny of England and in The Declaration of Independence they, well declared their independence. Strangely independence was actually declared two days earlier on July 2nd, 1776 and genuine freedom was won over six years after that.
So how, over 200 years later, do we continue to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th and what is with all the hot dogs, burger, beers and fireworks? This article will explore the convoluted and often amusing history of July 4th, the National Holiday of the United States of America.
Origins and Beginnings - Questions and Conundrums.
Most Americans consider the 4th of July to be the beginning of the United States of America, but in truth the colonies had already declared their independence and had yet to actually win their freedom.
On July 2nd 1776, on the initial urgings of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia (who?), The Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia approved the resolution of Independence wherein the Thirteen Colonies declared that they would no longer be subject to the rule of a foreign crown.
"Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
Genuine independence would only be secured on September 3rd, 1783 with The Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain formally abandoned any claim to the United States.
Then why July 4th? If July 2nd was the day the that independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress and September 3rd was the day we were finally and legally free, why celebrate Independence Day on July 4th?
The 4th of July - A Message to the World
There is a reason that Independence Day is the National Holiday of the United States. As any erudite historian will attest to The United States, at its core, has always been about an idea. This idea, that men (and eventually women and other men not originally included) have the right to determine their own governance, their own future, and live their lives as they will, is the very core of the "American Experiment."
In the early years of our Republic the rest of the world looked on with amusement and a little trepidation. They expected the United States to fail and waited and waited and waited for it to do so. Over 200 years later the Idea of America not only holds strong, but has influenced the world in ways even the Founding Fathers would have never been able to predict.
So on July 4th, 1776, when Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams and and a few others unveiled the official Declaration of Independence, it was about much more than declaring political freedom from England. The Declaration of Independence was the first time in history a nation had been founded on the principal that all people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" and that these rights would be guaranteed. It has fed the character of the people and institutions of the United States of America ever since. The founding fathers were declaring not just the independence of a nation but of all humankind.