Thursday, July 03, 2008

in hindsight

Since tomorrow is July 4th, the day Americans celebrate our nationhood, I thought I would give you this historic gem (tomorrow I will quote from the Declaration itself).

On this day in 1776, John Adams, wrote to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in this history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It out be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Alighty. It out 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 forever more.
Incidentally, it was July 2nd, not July 4th that the Continental Congress voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence. It merely took two days for them to write it down neatly on nice parchment paper and get around to signing it (individually, not like this famous painting in the U.S. Capitol).

Anyway, my point was supposed to be that Adams accurately predicted what our national holiday would become: a mix of parades, fairs, baseball games, fireworks, family BBQ's, and reverence of God. The only thing he got wrong was the date, which was understandable given what I just explained above.

Happy July 3rd everybody!

3 comments:

Mark E. Towner said...

David,
Have you watched the HBO series on John Adams? It is fantastic and showed just how much influence Abigail had in the early development of the Government and what a awful place the White House and DC was at that time. When he was in his 80's he was invited to see and make comments about that famous painting. At the time it was painted only he and Jefferson were still alive. He said it was crap, totally fiction, and ridiculed the painter for total hokum.

Mark

Oldenburg said...

The HBO miniseries is in my netflix queue (I don't get HBO). But I have read the excellent book it is based on by David McCullough. If you haven't had the chance to read it, I highly recommend you do.

Not only does it talk a lot about how amazingly powerful, influential, and smart Abigal Adams was, but also paints a more nuanced portrait of the second president--and not just the caricature that pushed for the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Incidentally, both Adams and Jefferson (who were political enemies in their "youth," and great friends in their "old age") died within minutes of each other on the same July 4th in 1826. His last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives."

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