Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July 4th - 100th Post

This is my 100th blog post and it lands on Independence Day.

A day of interesting predictions and coincidences. On this day in 1776, of course, the official signing of the Declaration of Independence, an act of courage (because it was treason), was completed in what is now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The vote for independence, and accepting the document, was taken the day before, but this was the day of ceremony.

John Adams wrote his regular letter to his wife Abigail, and poured more than the usual emotion into it. He said, "I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..." (I'm sure he meant to add something about the terrific food.) And while it was years until big annual celebrations, and until fireworks became the very symbol of this holiday, he was right. Looking forward, with the probable long years of war, squabbling over the Constitution (which wouldn't be written for over a decade yet), and possible loss and hangings for all the signers, Adams could only see the best possible future. He even seemed to foresee our nation stretching from coast to coast.

Fifty years later, on July 4th, two of the men on the small committee that worked on the Declaration of Independence passed away mere hours apart. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, after breaking their friendship over politics (Adams was a Federalist, Jefferson a Democrat), after reestablishing that friendship in their old age and writing a famous correspondence, died on the same day, as the nation, 50 years old, was celebrating around them. The news of the passing of the two great men was taken by many as an omen, and many believed these elder statesmen, who had watched over the country's early years and lived so long, had held on until this day as a sign that they would somehow continue to watch over it after death.

Happy birthday, America!

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