02 July 2011

Guns, Bells, and Bonfires

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Of course if John Adams had had his way we would have been celebrating with our Guns, Bells, and Bonfires in December or so. If independence had been declared seven months earlier, he bitched, we could already “have formed Alliances with foreign States.—We should have mastered Quebec and been in Possession of Canada”. Unfortunately “Hopes of Reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by Multitudes of honest and well meaning tho weak and mistaken People” needlessly delayed the declaration—well, not needlessly, as it gave time to “cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago….” With this attitude it’s perhaps not surprising that British loyalist and military historian Charles Stedman described him (along with Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge) as a man “whose principles were violent in the extreme, and who sought every opportunity of reducing the parent-state to humiliating and mortifying situations.”

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