Eric Douglas: The reason we celebrate independence
The day we all celebrate, the day that this country officially began moving forward as an independent nation, is the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It’s actually not the day it we declared ourselves free.
That was July 2, 1776. On that day, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution for independence from Britain. That day, the Pennsylvania Evening Post said, “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.” John Adams predicted to his wife Abigail that July 2 would become a day of celebrations with fireworks.
The Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, and that day has become our day of celebration. There is some discussion, though, that the final draft of the declaration wasn’t signed until Aug. 2, 1776 when the assistant to the secretary produced a clean copy of Thomas Jefferson’s original document, following revisions from Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Founding fathers were signing the document well into 1777. The King of England didn’t find out about the Declaration of Independence until Aug. 30. It wasn’t like they could pick up the phone. Someone had to get on a ship sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to carry that message.
Of course, the American revolutionary army was already in the field. Fighting itself began on April 19, 1775, more than a year before the official declaration. The war didn’t end until Sept. 3, 1883.
I bring all this up as a history reminder, but also in preparation of the coming weekend. Independence Day isn’t until next Tuesday, but since most of us will be back at work on July 5, most of the celebrations will take place over the weekend. That means we are celebrating the various days in the process, not just the day the declaration was finished.
Much of the Declaration of Independence is a recitation of grievances against the British crown, justifying the declaration itself. The most important part of the document, though, (in my opinion) is the first few sentences of the second paragraph:
“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.”
Those are 55 extremely powerful words we should all remember this holiday weekend.
Happy Independence Day.
Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit www.booksbyeric.com or contact him at Eric@booksbyeric.com