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Saturday, July 02, 2005

This Day

in the year of our Lord, seventeen hundred seventy-six, by the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, by a vote of 12 to 0, with New York abstaining, the following was adopted:
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them, and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
John Adams, the congressional shepherd of colonial independence, with clear understanding and a surprisingly accurate vision of the future, wrote the next day in two separate letters to his wife, Abigail:
Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony 'that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.' You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes which have impell'd Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days.
and:

But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

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 that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

It is an historical accident that we have come to celebrate the anniversary of the "press release" announcing the resolution of Independence. Nevertheless, the historically literate recognize that the days leading to and immediately following the decision of July 2 mark the darkest period (not the darkest instant, though) in this still young nation's history. And we find a model for today in the remarkable clarity and steadfast optimism of the oft-claimed dour Mr. Adams.

May God bless America; long may she bathe in the "Rays of ravishing Light and Glory."

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