You know we celebrate Independence Day, but do you know why? - Albuquerque Journal

You know we celebrate Independence Day, but do you know why?

I have a newfound interest in American history. I enjoy the audio books from the library, including the storytelling I have found in several books about American history. I am fascinated by the journals, letters and personal accounts referenced in the books.

The information below is from the website History.com. Go to the website to read more.

The Fourth of July-also known as Independence Day or July 4th-has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4 has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

Declaring independence

At a 4th of July celebration I attended a talented man recited the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, moving many in the audience to tears. Below are the two paragraphs from National Archives, “Declaration of Independence: A Transcription” (Note: The following text is a transcription of the Stone Engraving of the parchment Declaration of Independence, the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum. The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.):

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

The rest is history

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to declare independence. Two days later, it ratified the text of the Declaration. John Dunlap, official printer to Congress, worked through the night to set the Declaration in type and print approximately 200 copies. These copies, known as the Dunlap Broadsides, were sent to various committees, assemblies and commanders of the Continental troops. The Dunlap Broadsides weren’t signed, but John Hancock’s name appears in large type at the bottom. One copy crossed the Atlantic, reaching King George III months later. The official British response scolded the “misguided Americans” and “their extravagant and inadmissable Claim of Independency.”

There is the good, the bad and the ugly in our history. As a friend told me, history does not happen in the past, we are living it today. For a book about history or any other topic, take advantage of the library summer reading program. More information is at abqlibrary.org/summerreading.

Sources: history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th; archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

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