Thunder Roads LA/MS July 2019 - Page 22

Do you know why we celebrate the 4th of July? By: Renee aka Momma Thunder - Some content courtesy of the Library of Congress and the American Experience We all know what independence means- It can be independence from work, family, or simply the independence and the freedom of riding the open road. But at the risk of snarls, and cheesy comments, I want to share with all of you as a reminder of what freedom is about despite the fireworks, BBQ’s and other get togethers on the 4th. I just want to remind you WHY we are able to do these things… Being a history buff myself, I have sought out on many occasions, several movies, books, and other forms of media to indulge in reading or watching historical AMERICAN events and dates. One of my favorite research past times is studying how and why we are free… The world we live in now consists of so many off the chain and insane acts and activities. So please bear with me here for a couple of minutes to bring you down a little history lesson lane, just in case you forgot WHY we are able to have those amazing fireworks and BBQ’s. So to just refresh your memory as to why you are a FREE AMERICAN—here it is—and yes I am proud to be an American and YES my grandfather came here legally from Sweden, and my Grandmother ( his Indian princess) was a true and real American—she was a very proud and loving Chickasaw Indian.. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to declare independence from Great Britain. Approximately 20 percent of the members of Congress were opposed to separation, but some did not vote, so that Congress might “speak with one voice.” The Declaration was necessary for concrete as well as symbolic reasons: the colonies needed foreign aid to keep fighting, but to obtain foreign aid it had to seek more than reconciliation with Britain, it had to proclaim itself a nation. The Declaration’s second paragraph, however, crystallized perfectly not only what had been accomplished over months of indecision and war, but what yet remained to be done: 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. Jefferson did harness the revolutionary spirit on paper, but also included statements with which Congress was uncomfortable. Nearly a quarter of the document was cut during editing. Although the paragraphs that remain espouse the ideals that spawned the Revolutionary War, much of the document comprised a litany of grievances against King George III. Among George’s crimes: the “horrors of the human slave trade.” The irony wasn’t lost on Adams that the Declaration of Independence, which trumpeted freedom for all men, was written by a slave owner. (Jefferson was far from the only slave owner in the Continental Congress; a full third of the delegates, from both North and South, either currently or had owned slaves, while Washington, who commanded America’s army, owned over 100.) Nor did the British let this contradiction go unnoticed. Queried Samuel Johnson: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the drivers of Negroes?” 20 Thunder Roads® Magazine LA/MS Gulf Coast | July 2019 | Date Discrepancy On July 4, only John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, the secretary, signed the Declaration. Then it went to the printer. The other delegates would sign on August 2, a date that faded not only from public memory, but from that of Adams and Jefferson also. As old men, they both insisted the signing — an act of treason against Great Britain — had occurred on the fourth of July. Independence Declared Following the Declaration’s publication in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, celebrations swept the nation. In New York, writes historian Benson Bobrick: “... Washington had the army brigades drawn up at six p.m. to hear ‘the United Colonies of America’ declared Free and Independent States.” Later that day, a jubilant crowd toppled the gargantuan statue of King George III that towered over Broadway. It would eventually be melted down for its metal and turned into 42,000 cartridges fired by the American army. Congress refrained from publishing the Declaration of Independence with a list of the signers until six months later when America won its first great victory in the war. History Made Wrote New Jersey delegate Richard Stockton, “The man to whom the country is most indebted for the great measure of independency is Mr. John Adams of Boston,” whom he called the “Atlas of Independence.” But Jefferson would be history’s hero. Adams’ prediction to Abigail of the importance of the Declaration would prove true, if two days off. “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. ...” The echoes of independence would continue to be heard throughout the lives of both Adams and Jefferson, until their deaths on the same day, July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration. So please take a moment during all of your celebrations of the 4th of July to reflect its true meaning of “independence “and freedom. And please take a minute to remember those that have fought and died before, since, and currently to ensure we keep those valued freedoms. | July 2019 | Thunder Roads® Magazine LA/MS Gulf Coast 21