Usually around July 4th, people ask me why the United States wanted away from the British so badly. The answer is simple: they didn’t. But at the same time, the Thirteen Colonies didn’t think they had a say in their destiny. King George III never saw the people of the colonies, so he really couldn’t be bothered with their petty grievances. When the Colonists complained, George III responded by sending more soldiers. Finally, on July 2nd, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies, in congress, declared their independence from England and the king.
“July 2nd?” you ask. Yes. The Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2nd. In fact, John Adams even noted that July 2nd would be remembered in the annals of American history and would be marked with fireworks and celebrations. The written Declaration of Independence was dated July 4th, but wasn’t actually signed until August 2. Fifty-six delegates eventually signed the document, although all were not present on that day in August.
“So that’s when the American Revolutionary War began?” you ask. No. It actually began more than a year before that on April 19th, 1775. For the first few months it was fought by the civilian population. Then on June 14th, 1775, the Continental Congress voted to establish an army. The Colonies realized that once hostilities began, King George III would not relent until the Colonists were whipped into submission.
John Hancock was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, since he was the President of the Continental Congress. It is rumored that he wrote his name so large for the sake of George III. Apparently King George III was nearsighted and Hancock wanted to be sure the king could read his signature without his glasses. The war ended on September 3rd, 1783, 8 years and 137 days after it began. Over the succeeding years the United States and Great Britain have become friendlier than in 1775 – 1783. In fact, if any of the citizens of the United Kingdom are in Lombard, Illinois this July 4th, stop by and we’ll have a barbecue just for you.
What do we in America do to celebrate Independence Day? Like our Canadian neighbors, the celebrations usually include outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts, as well as citizenship ceremonies for new citizens. I know, I know… that’s what it said for Canada, too. Just remember, WE did it first, so Canada is copying US.
Oh yeah… President Hayes sent Budweiser to Canada because we were trying to make the Canadians sick. We kept the Milwaukee-brewed beer here in the States, where it belongs.