With the July 4th holiday approaching, many of us will be preparing for cookouts with family and friends, going to community events, and, of course, going to see fireworks. Since the beginning, Americans have taken time to commemorate the events of 1776 when our country united and declared its independence.
In June of 1776, Richard Henry Lee from Virginia addressed the Continental Congress and presented a resolution calling for a formal separation from Great Britain. While the Lee Resolution was not immediately adopted, it made it clear to the Congress that the colonies were headed in the direction of independence. Before adjourning, the Continental Congress decided to appoint a committee to draft the case for independence to the world. The members of the committee included John Adams from Massachusetts, Roger Sherman from Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin from Pennsylvania, Robert Livingston from New York, and Thomas Jefferson from Virginia. This draft would ultimately become the text of the Declaration of Independence.
The Lee Resolution was adopted when the Continental Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776, and immediately following, they began to consider the declaration draft from the committee. After a few days of debate and revisions, the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted on July 4, 1776.
From the birth of our nation, July 4 was meant to be a day for our country to celebrate. In the midst of discussions the day before the Declaration was adopted, John Adams wrote his wife Abigail describing to her how our nation should celebrate. In his letter, he tells Abigail: “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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward and forever more.”
As it turns out, Adams’ ideas for how to celebrate are still popular 240 years later, and Independence Day continues to be a unique holiday where we join together in community-wide events to celebrate our country, our Founding Fathers, and the brave men and women who fought so hard to give us our freedoms. This July 4, I hope you will take time to reflect on all of the sacrifices that were made to achieve America’s independence. No matter how you choose to celebrate, I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday!
As always, if you have questions or comments about any issue facing the federal government, I invite you to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster office at (740) 654-2654 or Wilmington office at (937) 283-7049.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.