The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 July 2004

John Adams explains it all

Of course, it was the second of July, that fateful year of 1776, when the Continental Congress decided to sever their ties to Britain; however, the full-fledged Declaration of Independence was dated the fourth, and that's the date which we celebrate.

And there is indeed much to celebrate. John Adams, in a letter to his wife on the third, had predicted there would be:

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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.

Adams was indeed prescient, except for that little matter of the date. We'll forgive him for that, and we'll applaud him for this:

You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend those States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.

Nobody said this business of freedom was going to be easy. And the eventual Constitution acknowledged as much: that business about forming "a more perfect Union" doesn't imply that we've already achieved perfection, only that we're going to work at it.

And so we do, well into our third century.

Posted at 5:34 AM to Political Science Fiction