Independence Day is the national holiday of United States of America in commemoration of the signing of the declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time of the signing the United States consisted of 13 colonies under the rule of England’s King George III. There was growing unrest in the colonies concerning the taxes that had been paid to England. This was commonly referred to as “Taxation without Representation” as the colonists did not have any representation in the English Parliament and had no say in what went on.
As the unrest grew in the colonies, King George sent troops to help control any rebellion. In 1774 the 13 colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia Pennsylvania to form the First Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with England, but were not yet ready to declare war. In April 1775 as the King’s troops advanced on Concord Massachusetts Paul Revere would sound the alarm that the British are coming as he rode his horse through the late night streets. The battle of Concord and its shot heard round the world would mark the unofficial beginning of colonies war for independence.
The following may the colonies again sent delegates to the second continental congress. For almost a year the congress tried to work out it’s differences with England again without formally declaring a war. By June 1776 their efforts had become hopeless and a committee was formed to compose a formal declaration of independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included John Adams, Benjamin franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented to the congress on June 28.
After various changes a vote was taken late in the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies 9 voted in favor of the declaration. Pennsylvania and South Carolina disagreed and voted no, Delaware undecided and New York abstained. To make it official, President of the Continental Congress signed the declaration of independence. It is said that John Hancock signed his name with a great flourish so king George can read that without spectacles. The Following day copies of the declaration were disturbed. The first news paper to print the Declaration were distributed.
The first news paper to print the declaration was the Pennsylvania Evening post on July 6,1776. On July 8 the declaration has it’s first public reading in Philadelphia’s Independence Square. Twice that day the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung. The Province Bell would later be renamed “Liberty Bell” after it’s inscription. And although the signing of the declaration was not completed until August, the 4th of July has been accepted as the official anniversary of United States independence.
The first Independence Day celebration took place the following year July 4,1777. By the early 1800s the traditions of parades, picnics, and fireworks were established as the way to celebrate America’s birthday. And although firework have been banned in most places because of their danger most towns and cities usually have big fireworks displays for all to see and enjoy. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the war of 1812 with great Britain. On June 24 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C.
Weight man declining an invitation to come to Washington D. C to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, was the gravely ill ever wrote. In it was indicated; “May it be to the world, what I believe, what it will be the signal of arousing men to burst the chains and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbound exercise of reason and freedom of opinion.
All eyes are opened or opening to the rights of man for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them. ” Congress established Independence Day as Holiday in 1870 and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as holiday but with full pay for federal employees. The political culture in 18th century is Republicanism, is the political value system that has been major part of American political thought since the American Revolution.
It was stresses liberty and rights as central values, makes the people as whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power excepts citizens to be independent and calls on then to perform civic duties. The American version of republicanism was formed by the founding fathers in the 18th century. It was formed the basis for the American Revolution, the declaration of independence in 1776 and the constitution in year 1787 as well as critical statements from Abraham Lincoln and others. It was asserts that people have inalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters.
The two political philosophies have influenced but not literally define their political party namely the democratic party and the republican party. The cause of this revolution is the commitment of most Americans to republican values and to their property rights helped bring about the American revolution, Britain was increasingly seen as corrupt and hostile to republicanism and a threat to the established liberties that Americans enjoyed and the American property rights. The Founding Fathers discoursed endlessly on the meaning of republicanism.
It was defined in 1787 as “ a government in which all men are rich and poor magistrates and subjects, officers and people,masters and servants, the first citizen and the last are equally subject to the laws. The Founding Fathers wanted a republicanism that would assured liberty with opposing, limited powers offsetting one another. They thought change should occur slowly as many were afraid that democracy by which they meant a direct democracy would allow a majority of voters at any time to trample rights and liberties in the heat of a moment.
They believed the most formidable of these potential majorities was that of the poor against the rich. They thought democracy could take form of mob rule that could be shaped on the spot be demagogue. Therefore, They devised a written constitution which could only be amended by the super majority preserved competing sovereignties in the constituent states that gave control of the upper house to the states and created an Electoral College comprising a small number of elites to select the president. They set up a house of representatives to represent the people.
In practice the electoral college soon gave way to control by political parties. In 1776 most states required property ownership to vote but most citizens owned farms in the rural nation and it was not a severe restriction. As the country urbanized and people took on different work, the property ownership requirement was gradually dropped by many states. In 1792-93 Jefferson and Madison created a new “republican party” in order to promote their version of the doctrine. They wanted to suggest that Hamilton’s version was illegitimate.
According to Federalist Noah Webster, an opposing Federalist political activist bitter at the defeat of the Federalist party in the White House and Congress, the choice of the name “Republican” was “a powerful instrument in the process of making proselytes to the party. The influence of names on the mass of mankind, was never more distinctly exhibited, than in the increase of the democratic party in the United States. The popularity of the denomination of the Republican Party, was more than a match for the popularity of Washington’s character and services, and contributed to overthrow his administration.
The party, which is also known as the Democratic Republican Party, split into separate factions in the 1820s, one of which became the Democratic Party. The Democrats (or American Democracy) were opposed by a party that chose a name, derived from the Patriots of the 1770s who started the American Revolution, the Whigs. Both of these parties proclaimed their devotion to republicanism. Under the new government after the Revolution, “republican motherhood” became an ideal, as exemplified by Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren.
The first duty of the republican woman was to instill republican values in her children, and to avoid luxury and ostentation. As late as 1800, the word “democrat”, as then used, was mostly used to attack an opponent. Thus George Washington in 1798 complained, “that you could as soon scrub the blackamoor white, as to change the principles of a pro fest Democrat; and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country. The Federalist Party are pervaded by the idea that pure democracy is actually quite dangerous, because it allows a majority to infringe upon the rights of a minority.
Thus Madison argued in Federalist #10, a special interest may take control of a small area, but it could not easily take over a large nation. Thus, the larger the nation, the safer is republicanism. The term Republic does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, but does appear in Article IV of the Constitution which “guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government. ” What exactly the writers of the constitution felt this should mean is uncertain.
The Supreme Court, in Luther v, Borden in 1849, declared that the definition of Republic was a “political question” in which it would not intervene. In two later cases, it did establish a basic definition. In United States v Cruikshank in 1875, the court ruled that the “equal rights of citizens” were inherent to the idea of republic. In re Duncan, it ruled that the “right of the people to choose their government” is also part of the definition. It is also generally assumed that the clause prevents any state from being a monarchy or a dictatorship.
Over time, the pejorative connotations of “democracy” faded. By the 1830s, democracy was seen as an unmitigated positive and the term “Democratic” was assumed by the Democratic party and the term “Democrat” was adopted by its members. A common term for the party in the later 19th century was “The Democracy. ” In debates on Reconstruction, Senator Charles Sumner argued that the republican “guarantee clause” in Article IV supported the introduction by force of democratic suffrage in the defeated South. As the limitations on democracy were slowly removed.
Senators were made directly electable by the people in 1913; property qualifications for state voters were eliminated in 1820’s; and initiative, referendum, recall and other devices of direct democracy became widely accepted at the state and local level in 1910’s. Thus, at present most people refer to the United States and its system of government as a democracy. Liberty has become a term that offends establishment intellectual leaders. Feeble attempts at fairness in the forceful redistribution of wealth is considered noble, but principles that guarantee free-market incentive systems are considered immoral and selfish.
Even the businessman today is more accustomed to getting special privileges or contracts from the government than in minimizing the role of government. Difficult choices by our national leaders are postponed, and gimmicks are devised to further consume the wealth and capital of the country instead. Passion for liberty has faded from the hearts of most Americans and is now cherished only by a remnant diligently working to reestablish its rightful place as one of our most important concerns. The challenge to keep alive the legacy of the Founding Fathers is overwhelming.
The Bicentennial Celebration of the Constitution is certainly an appropriate time to restate and emphasize the importance of the freedoms embodied in this great document. “We hold truths to be self-evident, that 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”. These words may be the best known part of the declaration of independence. The Declaration explains why the 13 colonies wanted independence from Great Britain. However, The declaration is not the law of the land.
The Constitution, which wasn’t written until 1789, outlines our form of government and explains what kinds of law we can make. The Declaration is more about the ideals of our country. In the painting, Jefferson is the tall man placing the Declaration on the table. Benjamin Franklin sits to his right and John Hancock sits behind the table . Thomas Jefferson contributed greatly to the development of the United States but the single most important item was the Declaration of Independence. His belief that each generation has the chance to remake the country’s laws and constitution was truly visionary.