Making Sense Of The Fourth Of July

The DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE is not what Thomas Jefferson thought it was when he wrote it—and that is why we celebrate it

 

John Adams thought Americans would commemorate their Independence Day on the second of July. Future generations, he confidently predicted, would remember July 2, 1776, as “the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America” and celebrate it as their “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 forever more.”

 
 
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Unexpected Philadelphia

A fond, canny, and surprising tour of the town where the Constitution was born

Two hundred years ago Philadelphia was the natural place for the constitution-makers. There was nothing unexpected about that. Philadelphia had one hundred years behind her that were as respectable as they were impressive. Two generations after her solitary founder, William Penn, had set foot on the right bank of the Delaware, Philadelphia had become the largest city in North America, and the fourth (perhaps the third) largest city in the entire British Empire.Read more »

The Signer Who Recanted

Under duress in a British prison, Richard Stockton of New Jersey had the singular misfortune to become

Various legends linger around the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the circumstances of the signing.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 14. John Hancock

Like Abou Ben Adhem, his name led all the rest. On the document proclaiming America’s independence it is inscribed boldly with flourishes, the mark of a confident, proud man; and the fact that it was written an inch longer than he customarily signed it gave rise to the legend that John Hancock had recorded his name large enough for George in to read without spectacles. Read more »

Business Of The Highest Magnitude

OR DON’T PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN RAM THROUGH TODAY

Dr. Benjamin Rush believed the hand of God must have been involved in the noble work. John Adams, writing from Grosvenor Square, London, called it the greatest single effort of national deliberation, and perhaps the greatest exertion of human understanding, the world had ever seen.Read more »

The Trumpet Sounds Again

WASHINGTON AFTER THE REVOLUTION: II

Washington had, during 1775, attended the Second Continental Congress as a delegate from what he then regarded as “my country,” Virginia. Virginia was considering a military alliance with the other twelve colonies, but to achieve this was no easy matter. During their long histories the colonies had been jealous of each other, with practically no political connection other than that which was now dissolving: their allegiance to the crown.

 
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Hats On For General Washington

Resigning his commission, the military hero joined Congress in acting out a strict protocol to symbolize the supremacy of civil government

It was my privilege some time ago to discuss the fundamentals of American government with President Eisenhower. The talk led to George Washington. Mr. Eisenhower said that, in his view, the great hour of Washington’s life came at Valley Forge where, militarily speaking, Washington achieved a miracle.

I doubt anyone will want to gainsay Mr. Eisenhower on a military opinion. On the other hand, civilians may turn their eyes on Washington’s civil career to see if they discern similar evidence of divine inspiration there. Read more »