On the fourth of July, Americans eat hot dogs and apple pie, watch fireworks and go swimming. But what are we actually celebrating? Usually they say in response that we celebrate our independence or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yes and no.
Here are 8 Facts You May Not Know About Our America’s Independence Day:
1. Independence was not declared on July 4: The Second Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2. John Adams even wrote to his wife Abigail that future generations would celebrate July 2 as Independence Day: “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable in American history. I am inclined to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as a great annual celebration. This day should be celebrated as a day of liberation with pomp and parade, with performances, games, sports, cannons, ringing of bells, bonfires and decorations, it should be celebrated throughout the continent and at all times. ” On July 4, 1776, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, but, contrary to popular belief, the document was not signed on July 4 – the official signing ceremony took place on August 2, it was then that most of the signers put their names on the document, and the rest were signed throughout the summer of 1776.
2. New York is Late: When the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain, the official vote was 12 in favor, 0 against. But wait, where was colony 13? Answer: New York abstained during the original July 2 vote.
3. First there were the states: independence began with the states themselves and at first did not touch Congress. The very first Declaration of Independence was signed on October 4, 1774 (21 months before the Continental Congress declared independence) in Worcester, Massachusetts. Over the next 21 months, a total of 90 states and cities declared their independence. When Virginia followed suit in May 1776, they sent Richard Henry Lee to the Continental Congress with a request to put the independence resolution to a vote, thus uniting all the colonies – future states – against the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.
4. American troops did not fight under the American flag during the revolution: On July Fourth, flags are flying everywhere, but the soldiers of the American Revolution were not waving the American flag at all. Our founders did not consider the flag to be something important, and its appearance differed in the number of stripes and the arrangement of the stars. A single flag was adopted so that our warships could be easily recognized when arriving at foreign ports, but the US flag was considered so insignificant that in 1794, when someone asked Congress to add two stars to the flag (symbolizing Vermont and Kentucky), the Chamber found this proposal too trivial. One legislator even said it was “a trifling matter that is not worthy of the attention of Congress, which is busy with issues of greater importance.” The Continental Army fought under the flags, but these flags were all different, depending on the regiment.
5. Our Founding Fathers Were Not Radical: We would like to think that our ideas of freedom and right were new and progressive. But the truth is that the Founding Fathers were not radically new thinkers – all their ideas and philosophies are deeply rooted in history. The ideas of human rights, freedom and social contracts can be traced back to the Middle Ages, to 1215 when the Magna Carta was created. Jefferson himself explained that the declaration was not meant to express something new.
6. We Are Not Democracy: People often associate democracy with freedom. We often hear this word in the speech of our politicians, our neighbors, and sometimes even teachers. But we are not a democracy. We are a republic. Our Founding Fathers paid special attention to this issue. They argued that democracy was too dangerous for the country, as it would inevitably lead to the oppression of the minority by the majority. Elbridge Jerry said that all evil comes from democracy. The founders were very wary of power, no matter where it came from, and limited it as much as possible – which is why we have such a unique system of checks and balances.
7. The Jefferson-Hemings scandal may not be all that scandalous. With Independence Day approaching, talks about the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson begin, which smoothly turn into the Sally Hemings scandal. The assertion that Jefferson was the father of the Hemings children was advanced by his political rival Alexander Hamilton in an attempt to denigrate and discredit him. These claims have received a lot of media attention in the past few years when a DNA test was performed on Sally Hemings’ descendants showing that Thomas Jefferson was the father of her children. However, this answer is not definitive, since the DNA test actually proves that the man from the Jefferson family was the father of Sally Hemings’ children – and it could be anyone. At the moment, science cannot give us a definitive answer.
8. Our Founding Fathers did not take an oath. Another patriotic tradition that gets a lot of attention, especially at this time of year, is the oath of allegiance to the US flag. It did not exist at the time when the founders lived – this can be seen from the text. The oath was written more than a hundred years after the founding of America, and was written by socialist Francis Bellamy, whose original text read: “I swear allegiance to my flag and the Republic of which it is a symbol, to one people, indivisible, freedom and justice for all.” The founders believed that the states were not at all indivisible, but quite the opposite. When ratifying the US Constitution, several states, including Virginia, declared the right to secede from the Union as an additional precaution. The founders took state rights very seriously and believed that either state could secede if it felt the federal government was oppressing them. If there was no oath, then where did the founding fathers begin their meetings and celebrations? Most likely from prayer. The very first resolution passed by the First Continental Congress stated that every meeting would open with prayer.
This is US Independence Day. As George Nethercutt Jr. said, “The foundation of the freedoms we enjoy is the US Constitution. Not knowing it tramples on our freedoms, but knowing history makes us better. Read the constituent documents of our country and they will inspire you. “