Friday, July 4, 2008

John Adams on Independence Day Celebrations

Letter to his wife, Abigail Adams
3 July 1776

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.

John Adams


Matthew said...

Alas, that is the story of John Adams life. He was only off by two days.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I'd love to know why the discrepancy? Any thoughts on this, Matthew?

Matthew said...

Well the Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776. They published the declaration on July 4th. John Adams was thinking the actual act of Congress would get the fame (for which he was primary mover) as opposed to the Declaration (of which Thomas Jefferson was the author). Adams and Jefferson had an interesting relationship for much of their lives.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Matthew. I understand that Jefferson received most of the credit for the Declaration of Independence, but John Adams was the intellect behind it. Is that correct?

Matthew said...

It's complicated. Adams thought he was. Jefferson disagreed. They both were good thinkers, politically savvy and agreed about much as regards to the reasosn for rebelling.

A truly excellent and painless way to learn a great deal of both men is to watch the play 1776. It is surprisingly accurate for a musical and much of the dialogue is drawn from the speakers' actual words.