Sunday, July 4, 2021

Independence Day: A "Passion for the Past" History of This Grand Holiday

The Spirit of  '76 reigns within me.
It did back in that bicentennial year of 1976,  and it still does today.
The Spirit of  '76

From Thomas Jefferson to John Adams,  May 27,  1813
Benjamin Rush
"Another of our friends of  76 is gone,  my dear Sir,  another of the Co-signers of the independence of our country.  and a better man,  than  (Benjamin) Rush,  could not have left us,  more benevolent, more learned,  of finer genius,  or more honest.  we too must go;  and that ere long.  I believe we are under half a dozen at present;   I mean the signers of the Declaration.  yourself,  Gerry,  Carroll, and myself are all I know to be living.  I am the only one South of the Patomac.  is Robert Treat Payne,  or Floyd living?  it is long since I heard of them,  and yet I do not recollect to have heard of their deaths.

From John Adams to Thomas Jefferson,  June 11,  1813:  
"I recd  yesterday your favour of may 27th.  I lament with you the loss of Rush.  I know of no Character living or dead,  who has done more real good in America.  Robert Treat Paine still lives,  at 83 or 84,  alert drol and witty though deaf.  Floyd I believe,  yet remains,  Paine must be very great;  Philosopher and Christian;  to live under the Afflictions of his Family.
You & I have passed our lives in serious times..."

Thomas Jefferson
John Adams
Serious times indeed!
Here is something that I feel is more than a coincidence - Providence,  mayhaps? - concerning these two men:  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams,  both co-writers of the Declaration of Independence,  died on the same day,  date,  and year.  That in itself is remarkable enough.  But their shared passing occurred on July 4,  1826,  50 years to the day of the Declaration's adoption.

Their death signaled the end of the Revolutionary era,  for,  at that point,  there was only one signer left alive,  Charles Carroll,  who lived six more years,  until 1832.


Independence Day.
The 4th of July.
My 2nd favorite holiday,  following only Christmas.
A time for patriotism,  and I have been a patriot as far back as I can remember and have always loved celebrating our country's birthday. uncool as it may be today,  I love my country and most of its history;  there is so much more good than bad.
So,  it was in 1776,  as every American school child should know,  and we were in a war that was being fought so the colonies that once belonged to England could become free and independent states.  No,  the war may not have begun with that intent originally,  but it sure didn't take long for that to become its main purpose.
Over the years I've written numerous blog posting articles about the different historical aspects concerning our independence,  and through the many hours of research I have learned so much more than I ever thought,  for there is so much more to this  "independence thing"  than I knew.  
So I figured I would put the links to each Declaration of Independence posting I wrote here where the interested reader can take a leisurely stroll to the past as they read the various stories on how we became a nation.  I've also included a few pre-and early-RevWar postings as well,  some showing daily life at the time.  I like to hope that maybe it's time to start celebrating America again,  especially in the run up to the 250th anniversary of our declaration in 2026.
Please click the links that are accompanying each of the photographs below to take you to the article.
And if you also click the photograph,  you can  enlarge them as well:

How are you,  Mr.  Daggett?
How does the farm?

A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies.  And I do mean   "pictorial,"  for there are over 80 photos included,  covering nearly every aspect of colonial life.
In this posting I try to touch on most major topics of the period with links to read more detailed accounts if one desires.
This is a good overview to give the reader an idea and vision of the lives of  those who fought in or were a part of the Revolutionary War and its era.

There was not just one thing that lead up to the Declaration.  It was much more complicated.  
"Fire if you and be damned, 
we know you dare not!"
For instance,  what is commonly known today as the Boston Massacre was,  at the time,  known as:
For a blog post,  this is a fairly in-depth  (though not encyclopedic)  look at what happened on the 5th of March in 1770;  an overview from a variety of sources of the occurrences.  So many are so unaware of what actually happened - it is my hope that maybe this posting could help to teach those who are somewhat unaware or even unfamiliar of the story of the Boston Massacre and events leading up to it,  beginning with the Stamp Act.

"Go home,"  she screamed at the Regulars, 
"and tell your master he sent you on a
fool's errand..."

Revolutionary War History - Preventing Tyranny at Salem in 1775 
This has got to be one of my very favorite stories to come out of the Revolutionary War...well, actually,  pre-Rev War,  for it happened only a few months before the battle of Lexington and Concord.
It's the simple telling of how the townsfolk of  Salem,  Massachusetts pulled together and beat the British without a single shot - true pre-RevWar story.
It is one of those stories that show true patriotism at its best - it'll make you stand and cheer!

April 18,  1775

Paul Revere: Listen My Children and You Shall Hear...
Modern historians like to relegate Paul Revere as more fable than fact,  no thanks to Longfellow's poem.  But this man deserves his place in our history,  and rightfully so,  for his ride was as important as nearly any other act of defiance of his time.
I have searched multiple sources to find the true story of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride,  and put it all here.
I think you just might be surprised at what Revere actually did.

Wentworth Cheswell rode with 
Paul Revere in December of 1774.

It was not only Paul Revere and William Dawes who made a ride on that fateful April night in 1775.  Meet the internet - the World Wide Web - of the 18th century.  It's here where you will find how thousands of militiamen from all around the general Massachusetts area gathered together to fight King George's army and win what is widely considered the first  "official"  battle of the American Revolution.  

  The chaotic state of Concord
April 19, 1775: As Seen Through the Eyes and From the Quills of Those Who Were There
This is the best part of research for me.  By utilizing the diaries,  journals,  letters,  newspapers/broadsides,  and remembrances from those who were there and actually saw the Battle of Lexington & Concord as it happened - actual witnesses of  to the horrific occurrences of this date which will also live in infamy - and then putting these tales into a concise format to help tell the story from a unique perspective,  it is easy to be drawn into the tumultuous world of the men & women who were there and saw one of the most famous battles known to mankind. 

Meeting Benjamin Franklin.

Declaring Independence:  The Spirits of  '76
Something very special happened almost 250 years ago,  but is that story being promoted?
Come on a time-travel visit to colonial America during that hot summer of 1776 and learn,  first hand,  of the accounts on how we were making a new and independent nation.

And so it was on that historical day and date
of the 4th of July in 1776...
For this post I thought I would write about the Declaration from a slightly different angle;  I want to give a little kudos to the men who originally printed out the broadsides to be sent out right off the presses for public reading back in that summer of 1776,  for they put their lives on the line as treasonists nearly as much as the signers did.
From the idea of declaring independence to composing to printing and then delivering this most important American document...oh yeah,  there is a lot more history to our Declaration than I ever realized!

I had the privilege of reading the Declaration at
an event in Indiana.
A true privilege.

What does the Declaration of Independence and our celebration of this great document every 4th of July mean to you?  Is it a chance to party?  A time for burgers  'n'  dogs barbecues?  Spending the day at the beach?  Fireworks?
Well,  hopefully each of these suggestions will play a part in your celebration. did the original 1st independence generation celebrate.
Here's how....

The Citizens of the American Colonies were among
the many who came out to hear Benjamin Franklin recite
the Declaration of Independence,  welcoming all to
witness the birth of the United States of America.

One of the best times I've ever had celebrating the 4th of July since 1976!
Yes,  a few of us living historians - more than 25! - showed up at historic Mill Race Village to help celebrate the 4th of July.  As throngs of visitors came through the dusty dirt road they were engulfed in the past,  and they witnessed military,  citizens,  celebrations,  and even a reading of the Declaration by none other than Ben Franklin himself!
I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this great American holiday.

Witnessing everyday life in America for the Common Folk
in the period that produced the Declaration of Independence
This is why Independence Day is second only to Christmas in my list of favorite holidays.  For years I have been celebrating the birth of our great Nation historically,  so in 2020,  I put together a sort of  "best of"  compilation of photographs and memories of these celebrations.

A coffee pot made by Paul Revere.
Yes,  the  Paul Revere!

With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence at the Henry Ford Museum
An amazing collection of original Revolutionary War artifacts on display for all the world to see,  telling the story of America's fight for Independence.  An original Stamp Act notification.  A letter written by Benedict Arnold.  George Washington's camp bed,  a coffee pot made by Paul Revere,  a writing desk that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson...yeah...this is some great stuff here!

Did you hear?
The Congress is declaring that we are to be
The Revolutionary Greenfield Village
Many people who visit this historic open-air museum do not know that inside these hallowed walls of history there are a few of the historic houses that have direct ties to America's Revolutionary War...three specific homesteads which are situated near each other:  the Plympton House,  the Daggett Farmhouse,  and the Giddings Home,  all of which have been transported from their original New England location and rebuilt & restored here inside Greenfield Village,  and the long past inhabitants of  each of these historic 18th century houses played a role to some varying degree in the Revolutionary War.  

Think for a moment about the tragic
 thoughts that ran through Nathan Hale’s 
mind at this moment.

Turn: The Original Culper Spy Ring Members
I haven't loved a television show as much as I do AMC's Turn:  Washington's Spies since I can't remember when,  and the series,  though not as historically accurate as I'd like,  got me interested in a part of the Revolutionary War that I previously knew little about.
The best part?
Many who had little interest in the Revolutionary War found themselves loving our great American history---due to this TV show!
So I did some research about RevWar spies.
What I did here is write short but accurate biographies of  Washington's original spies from Long Island.  Also,  inserted throughout are pictures from the 4th  (and final)  season of the show,  for good measure.

Jonathan Smith fought in the
Battle of Long Island on
August 29,  1776. 

Faces of History:  Original Photographs of Revolutionary War Vets
Yes,   you heard right!  Actual photos of the men who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Of course,  the pictures were taken when the men were of an old age many years after the war had ended,  but still...looking into the eyes of those who were there - of those who actually saw  (and heard)  George Washington,  heard about the Declaration of Independence when it was current news,  and saw the British surrender at Yorktown - is quite a thrill.

Taverns were the pulse of 18th century urban life, 
and their importance to the local community
cannot be overstated. 
Travel and Taverns
The long air-conditioned  (or heated)  car ride.  Motels without a pool!  Can we stop at McDonalds?  I'm hungry!
Ahhhh....modern travelers never had it so good.
I've always had a fascination of travel back in the day,  and I decided to find out as much as I could about how it actually was.
I wasn't disappointed - - - I dug through my books,  went to a historic research library,  'surfed the net'  (does anyone say that anymore?),  and asked docents who work at historic taverns questions,  looking for the tiniest bits of information to help me to understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in the colonial times.
This post is the culmination of all of that research,  and it made me realize just how much our country's founding relied upon the tavern.


The fateful news traveled swiftly on the post road from Philadelphia,  covering more than ninety miles and crossing five rivers in just a couple of days.  Precise copies were then made of the thirteen-hundred-word broadside,  titled  "A Declaration,"  that arrived at the Mortier mansion headquarters,  and by Tuesday July 9,  General Washington was ready for every soldier in his command to hear what Congress had to say.
From the book by Rick Atkinson  "The British Are Coming"
Due to a letter John Adams wrote to his wife,  Abigail,  many like to believe that our
original celebration date is July 2nd.  However,  one just needs to look at the actual Declaration of Independence  document to know the date truly is  July 4 of 1776.


And there you have a few of my postings that intertwine well with each other.  I certainly hope the time you spent clicking the links included here and reading about our wonderful past will help you to understand and appreciate what life was like in America for the Common Folk in the period that produced the Declaration of Independence. 
Happy Independence Day!

"Another of our friends of  '76 is gone..."
This right here tells you how so very special that year of our Declaration of Independence still was to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that they continued to remember when a long-time friend had passed away,  not in his age,  but of the accomplishment and contribution he made 37 years prior.  Those 56 men who signed that most important of documents had a connection - a relation - unlike we could ever know.
"Another of our friends of  '76~" American heroes...


Now,  before we end the celebratory post,  I would like to include one more thing:  movies about the Revolutionary War era.
I've said many times that the 4th of July - Independence Day - is my second favorite holiday.  Only Christmas tops it.
And,  like Christmas,  there are plenty of awesome movies to watch to help in my celebration:
John Adams mini-series comes to mind first,  which is my favorite of them all.  Nine hours and twenty minutes of pure immersion. The Patriot is good to watch,  too  (I know it's not accurate but I still love it---the battle scenes are great),  The Crossing,   Mary Silliman's War,  and April Morning are all excellent.
And so is the docu-drama Legends & Lies:  The Patriots,  which plays much more like a movie/mini-series than a documentary;  it is engulfing in every sense.
Of course,  Turn: Washington's Spies is pretty darn amazing - forty three and a half hours of Revolutionary War engrossment.  And for a lighter look,  the Felicity movie based on the American Girl Doll stories is also a good watch,  especially for the younger set.  Then there's PBS's  A Mid-wife's Tale,  showing daily life pretty accurately.
Yup---plenty of fine films based around our Revolutionary history to watch as part of your celebration.
(To read my reviews of American History movies,  please click HERE)

American history - so much of what was not taught in school.

~Until next time,  see you in time.

~   ~   ~

1 comment:

R's Rue said...

I love this post. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful and safe day.