July 4, 2011
“Independence forever!” is the toast that John Adams, our second president, gave on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Coincidentally and maybe fittingly, that was also the day he died at the age of 91.
John and Abigail Adams
I so love John and Abigail Adams! The letters they exchanged during the days of the Revolutionary War, while he was part of the Continental Congress and she at home outside of Boston raising their children, are historic treasures and are recommended readings for patriots everywhere.
John frequently asked Abigail about many things and their letters are filled with smart, engaging discussions on government and politics. Besides being personal love letters, they serve us as amazing and invaluable eyewitness accounts of the Revolutionary War home front as well as terrific sources of political commentary. Here is the book I have, and I’ve parked out in that thing at least 4 times now and it is still a wonderful read!
Did you know it was John Adams who inspired the passage of the Declaration of Independence? It was his stirring speech that convinced the more reticent members of the Continental Congress to declare our independence from England.
Shortly after the passage of the Declaration of Independence, John wrote back to Abigail and at the time, thought it would be July 2nd that would be forever celebrated:
“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America,” he wrote. “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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
And though he was overjoyed, John Adams completely understood that independence, freedom, and liberty could not come without a price. He wrote this to Abigail:
“You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means.”
And his prediction that freedom would not come easily has proved true. Many of you know what happened to those early patriots:
“Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war,” the author wrote. “Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his thirteen children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned.”
Two hundred and thirty five years ago, both John and Abigail Adams (and our other founders) understood that the very strength of this young nation was its citizens’ resolve to be free and stay free from tyranny. They had the courage and the strength of character to dream the dream of a free America and independence forever.
Happy 4th of July!