Today is the First of July. America begins what will be the 240th celebration of the Declaration of Independence. When you hear people tout the Constitution this week end, please remind them that it is the Declaration that we celebrate in July. The Constitution did not come for eleven more years, and was not ratified by the states until two years after that. Constitution Day is September 17th, not July 4th.
It is also worth noting that the Declaration was the product of three weeks of work by a committee of five, who delegated the writing to three; one of whom did the actual original writing. Thomas Jefferson penned the original Declaration between June 12-27. A fair copy was read to Congress on June 28, and debated until July 4 when it was adopted as we have it today. Later on July 4, 1776, Philadelphia printer John Dunlap prints the first copies of the declaration. Twenty four of those original Dunlap Broadsides are known to exist today. ‘
The first newspaper printing of the Declaration was in the Pennsylvania Evening Post of July 6, and the first public reading occurred on July 8. Delegates did not begin to sign the Declaration until almost a month later on August second. The signers came in singly over several days. There was not assembly where they all filed up to a table and signed the document as it is often depicted.
What we celebrate this week end and especially on July 4th is Congressional adoption of the Declaration to King George III and the British Parliament that states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing tis powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
And concludes with:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do in the name and by authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”
Happy July 4th.
A Virginia Patriot
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