Happy Birthday America! While today marks our Independence Day, it really could be celebrated for a month. Here’s some interesting facts about our Independence in case you’ve forgotten your history lessons.
In July 1775, after another failed attempt for a peaceful reconciliation with Britain, Congress approved “The Olive Branch Petition”. The petition pleaded for a full review of the unlawful policies that had been imposed on America. It was just a year earlier that America had formed a national Congress. This was the result of a call for “harmonizing of measures” in 1774.
By November, word returned (remember they didn’t have phone, fax, or email, lol), that the King and Parliament refused to give any hearing to America’s request and responded with a complete embargo against all the colonies.
As you might imagine, anger heightened which brought action both at the state level and national level.
In March of 1774, John Hancock, who must have had great faith, vision, or a crystal ball, proclaimed, “I have the most animating confidence that the present noble struggle for liberty will terminate gloriously for America.”
With the Olive Branch rejected, the embargo in place, and all attempts of reconciliation exhausted, Congress approved in principal a separation from Great Britain on July 2, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence which was signed by by two signers, John Hancock and Charles Thomson.
The preamble states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence was a dual declaration – a declaration of Independence from Britain and a Declaration of Dependence on God.
July 5th, John Adams writes in a letter to Abigail, “this day will be the most memorable epocha (an instant in time that marks a new period or era) in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”
On July 8, 1776, the Declaration had its first public reading on the steps outside Independence Hall. Then the Liberty Bell was rung, fulfilling the Bible inscription on its side:
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Leviticus 25:10
On July 19th, Congress ordered that the Declaration of Independence be engrossed on parchment in beautiful script so that it could be signed by the entire Congress.
One month later, on August 2nd, the members of Congress placed their hands on the document and signed it in the form we are so familiar with.
May John Hancock’s words always ring true for America, that our struggle to become a free and independent nation always finish in glory.