Happy Independence Day

By | Jul 2, 2013

On Monday July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress began the debate on the resolution that Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had made on June 6th.

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

A final vote was taken the next day, July 2nd. It was passed even though South Carolina still wasn’t in favor of independence, but Edward Rutledge, who opposed independence and had many motions to delay the vote, convinced the delegation that for the sake of unanimity, they should vote in favor. The New York delegation abstained, since they did not have instructions from their home government.

Delaware had three delegates representing the colony. The colony had just recently declared their independence not only from England but also from Pennsylvania with whom they shared a Royal Governor. Thomas McKean, who was on the side of independence, sent a dispatch to Caesar Rodney, the third delegate, who was seeing to the command of his Militia unit near his home in Dover.

Rodney received the dispatch on July 1st, the day before the vote would be taken. He quickly mounted his horse and began the 80 miles trip to Philadelphia. He rode throughout the night. While he rode he encountered a severe thunderstorm. He continued to ride through the rain that turned the road to mud. He arrived shortly after the delegates returned to the Congress after their lunch break, just before the final vote was taken. When Delaware was called he rose and voted in favor of Independence. George Read, the Delaware delegate who was against Independence, did sign the Declaration.

In a letter that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3 he said;

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.

Two days later at a little after 11 o’clock on Thursday morning July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved. Again the New York delegation abstained from the vote, but did approve the Declaration five days later.


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