As you prepare to host a backyard barbecue or pack the car for a weekend at the beach or just settle in for a much-needed day off from work during the July 4 holiday, think about this: the United States of America very nearly had a July 2 Independence Day instead.
Even our second president John Adams was convinced July 2 would be this country’s most patriotic holiday.
In a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776, he wrote: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
The reason for Adams’ certainty was because, during the American Revolution in 1776, the legal separation of the 13 colonies from England took place on July 2. That’s when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence which had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.
After voting for independence, our fledgling Congress, which was filled with really intelligent men, turned its attention to the official Declaration of Independence — a document primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson. Congress debated and revised the wording numerous times, getting it just right before voting on July 4 to approve it.
Over the course of time, historians have claimed that the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on Aug. 2, 1776. But Jefferson, Adams and Benjamin Franklin all have written that the document was signed July 4.
As an aside, here is an interesting bit of fact about July 4: In a remarkable coincidence, both Adams and Thomas, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as presidents of the United States, died on the same day … July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.
Here’s another aside, also interesting: Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a president, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row who died on this memorable day.
One more? OK: Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only president to have been born on Independence Day.
Regardless of whether our independence legally or officially falls on July 2, July 4 or Aug. 2, it should be a time for every American to reflect on our history, what it took for this country to be formed and what direction we are going now.
Happy 236th birthday, America.
Speaking of birthdays, now is the portion of this space where I will share with you an item that should bring a smile to your face and satisfy that rumble in your belly. In a word … IHOP. Well, OK, it’s an acronym. So what.
On Tuesday, the International House of Pancakes will turn 56 years old. Why is this important? Well, I realize that Bladen County doesn’t actually have an IHOP (the one in Lumberton may be the closest), but on Tuesday, the restaurant will offer up a syrupy deal that would make the short drive both mouth-watering and worthwhile.
To celebrate its 56th birthday, IHOP will offer a short stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes for just 56 cents — which is 4 cents cheaper than when the eatery first opened in 1958. And it will last all day long.
Seems like it would make sense to bookend the Independence Day holiday with a barbecue on Friday and a short stack (or five) at IHOP on Tuesday.
You’ll have all summer to work it off.
— W. Curt Vincent is the general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reaches by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.