Read more Blasts from the Past in Andi’s Attic >>
If you missed the two-part Fourth of July Andi’s Journal posts, you can start here >>
So, how’s your history? Andi’s history knowledge is very good. In her classroom, the founding fathers are pounded into students’ heads so that they will never forget how a ragtag bunch of thirteen very different and independent colonies of Britain came together to form the United States of America. It was not an easy road. Here are some interesting facts about those turbulent times.
1. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. John Adams believed July 2 would be the date always remembered as Independence Day. He even wrote to his wife, Abigail, (or how else would we know about this if these guys were not good letter writers?), saying, “July 2 will be celebrated . . . as the great anniversary . . .” and it should include “Pomp and parade . . . Games, Sports, Guns (oh, yeah!), Bonfires, and illuminations (fireworks?) from one End of this Continent to the other.” He was right about the celebration, but so wrong about the date. It wasn’t until two days later, on July 4, when the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence and put their names to the official document. That year they shot off muskets and cannons (boys and their toys!), read the new document, and in general celebrated all the excitement. They did the same thing the very next year (July 4, 1777), even during the War. The War was still going on in 1778, 1779, 1780, and 1781! Yikes!
2. Before that fateful July 2 (or 4th) day, colonists held celebrations for the King’s birthday. They rang bells, lit bonfires, had parades, and lots of speech making. Well . . . the summer of 1776, no more King George birthday parties, (at least not the kind the King might like to see). Instead, the colonists held mock (pretend) funerals for dear old George the Third. This symbolized the end of his tight hold on these American colonies.
3. When were the very first American fireworks shot off? July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fireworks have been around since 200 B.C. (bless the Chinese for inventing that kind of thing), but Americans shot them off at the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ships (like the one in the picture above) fired a 13-gun (and those are BIG guns on those old ships!) to honor the 13 colonies.
4. The Fourth of July was not a National Holiday until 1870.
And now for some famous quotes from men who were determined to make sure that God’s Hand was upon our country during its founding:
1. “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams
2. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams
3. “Those that can give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
4. “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” ~Thomas Jefferson
5. “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” ~ George Washington
6. “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the Word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” ~John Jay.
7. And now, one more quote from a visiting Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, to America’s shores in the early 1800s. He was trying to figure out what made America such a fantastic place. What was the secret to our country’s greatness? Here is what he discovered.
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there. . . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there. . . . .in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there. . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”