July 01, 2008|
As the month of July begins, and we are planning to celebrate July 4th our nation’s birthday, I have so many memories of family gatherings of past years that come to mind. Picnics, fireworks, swimming, parades, and, oh yes, the family parades with my cousins…with our pets, the family horse named Buster, drums, the little ones trying to keep up with the older children, but what fun!
As I got older and began to enjoy history, learning about the American Revolution, I remember seeing for the first time the Declaration of Independence…and the goose bumps! I have read just about every book written on Jefferson, but I remember the writings of Thomas Jefferson himself about his gardens, his farming, his home at Monticello and his architecture, as this was “revolutionary” in those days. Visiting Monticello for the first time and seeing Jefferson’s epitaph on his tombstone, composed by Jefferson himself, was extraordinary. He only wanted to be known for being the “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.” Each time I visit Monticello and the University of Virginia, I appreciate his intellect and what he did for these United States.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were contemporaries, Jefferson being Secretary of State and Adams being Vice President under George Washington’s presidency. There were many clashes between these two during those particular years in office; however, they were friends and old adversaries in their later years.
I realized several years ago that I had not read much about John Adams except for Irving Stone’s “Those Who Love”, the wonderful story of John and his wife, Abigail. So, I began the process of studying a bit more on our second president, Adams. The following passage is one that was written by Adams on July 3, 1776 and is definitely one to remember:
“Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do. You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support, and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can say that the end is more than worth all the means and that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not…
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
From the above passage we realize that Adams was two days off in stating our nation’s birth date. After editing the document, our Declaration of Independence was formally approved by twelve of the thirteen colonies on July 4, 1776. New York at this time abstained, but approved it five days later.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. On his deathbed, Adams died thinking that Jefferson survived him, but Jefferson had passed away several hours earlier. Both of these men were wonderful writers, and either could have written the Declaration. Being the senior statesman, the task could have fallen to Adams; however, he insisted that Jefferson was the better writer and his insistence prevailed. Thanks to both of these “architects” of the written word the Declaration of Independence exists today and hopefully it shall forever more.
Have a wonderful 4th and a wonderful July! Happy Birthday, America!
“The Roots that make Us One are Stronger than the Branches that Divide Us.” Author Unknown