Quote of the moment: John Adams, celebrating the 2nd of July

“The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . 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.”
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

1776 filled the calendar with dates deserving of remembrance and even celebration.  John Adams, delegate from Massachusetts to the Second Continental Congress, wrote home to his wife Abigail that future generations would celebrate July 2, the date the Congress voted to approve Richard Henry Lee’s resolution declaring independence from Britain for 13 of the British colonies in America.

Two days later, that same Congress approved the wording of the document Thomas Jefferson had drafted to announce Lee’s resolution to the world.

Today, we celebrate the date of the document Jefferson wrote, and Richard Henry Lee is often a reduced to a footnote, if not erased from history altogether.

Who can predict the future?

(You know, of course, that Adams and Jefferson both died 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1826.  In the 50 intervening years, Adams and Jefferson were comrades in arms and diplomacy in Europe, officers of the new government in America, opposing candidates for the presidency, President and Vice President, ex-President and President, bitter enemies, then long-distance friends writing almost daily about how to make a great new nation.  Read David McCullough‘s version of the story, if you can find it.)

Update, July 4, 2013: You may want to check the updated version of this post, with more links, and even more history.

2015 edition, with more links for teachers and historians, here.

6 Responses to Quote of the moment: John Adams, celebrating the 2nd of July

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Poke around this blog — see links on the right — see what else you might like here. Subscribe to the Twitter remarks, or get posts by e-mail.

    Thanks for dropping by!


  2. Ediacaran says:

    Thanks, James, that’s the book. I was on a mobile device at the time and couldn’t check it myself without losing the early part of my comment. “Cappon” instead of “Capon” – my bad – and my copy had a green cover, but that’s the one. Excellent book.

    As for the lousy Sellier film with at least one bogus quote falsely attributed to a Founding Father, this seems to be the one I saw (directed by his fellow creationist David Balsinger):




  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Right editor, right guys being edited — if that’s not the right one, it’s awfully close.


  4. James Kessler says:

    Hm, didn’t mean to pull up an amazon ad…


  5. Ediacaran says:

    I saw Trinity Broadcasting Network (Fundamentalist Channel) aired a jingoistic hagiography of George W. Bush by Charles Sellier (associated w/ Grizzly Adams Productions or similar co. name if I recall from the credits). The writers seem to have relied (no pun intended) on the bogus ‘history’ peddled by Barton and maybe Federer and such ilk. The bogus quote about the 10 Commandments falsely attributed to Madison made an appearance. The Fundamentalist historical revisionists do not seem content to let Shrub struggle to do chinups on the lowest rung of the presidential ladder as real historians evaluate the mess he made of our nation’s economy, reputation and values, and his administration’s disregard of our Constitution.

    More to the topic of your post, I recommend reading the correspondence between Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams – in paperback and edited by (if I recall a semblance of the name) Lester Capon. Thanks for the posts and hoping you had a safe and happy 4th to celebrate our Independence.


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