The Fourth of July, aka Independence Day, is surely the most iconic of American holidays. The official birthday of the United States has long been celebrated with fireworks and family gatherings but the day did not officially become a paid holiday for federal employees until 1941. A bit of background: on July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. The Declaration, along with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, would become the foundations of our fledgling democracy; the Declaration would also provide a model for the French Revolution of 1789. While much of the above is familiar to many of us, did you know that John Adams maintained till his dying day that July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate American independence? He would protest July 4 celebrations by refusing all invitations on that famous day. Ironically, “frenemies” John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Click here for a link to the National Archives and the text and signatories of the Declaration of Independence; click here to learn more about the history and traditions of Independence Day; and, click on the book jackets below to be directed to links in our catalog.
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government." Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, June 24, 1826
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)