The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Celebrating Independence on July 2nd!

Yesterday we shared an Independence Day message from John Quincy Adams on the Beehive. In keeping in the spirit of preparing to celebrate our nation's birthday, today we share some of John Adams' words on the subject.  In a letter dated 3 July 1776 future president John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: 

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.

Adams was correct about everything but the date!  His description of people using "Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations" to mark this "most memorable day" is spot on for most American communities today. On Monday, 2 July visit the MHS to hear Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey explain why John Adams believed 2 July 1776 would be the most memorable day in the history of America. We will offer two gallery talks, at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, for interested visitors to learn the story.

If you cannot make it to a gallery talk, you can still plan to visit the MHS to view the exhibition The Most Memorable Day in the History of America: July 2, 1776. The exhibition, features letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams, manuscript copies of early drafts of the Declaration of Independence in both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson's own handwriting, and the Society's own first printing of the Declaration, also known as the Dunlap broadside. The exhibition is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, from 2 July through 31 August.  

Alex Ashlock of WBUR spoke with Peter Drummey about the exhibition over the weekend. Read more in his write-up Should We Be Celebrating July 2nd?

permalink | Published: Saturday, 30 June, 2012, 1:00 AM


Jul 2, 2012, 1:58 pm

citoyen david

The Declaration of Independence is considered by many Americans as the founding voice of an oppressed people who decided to stop the abuse and proclaim their reasons for rebellion from the authority of the King.

Our folkloric tales tell us that Thomas Jefferson drafted the entire document and it was his intellect and flourish of combining words to create, in essence, a prime directive of inspiration which enlightens the spirit of common rights for all individuals. But, in truth that is a myth that is either over-looked in the teachings or misunderstood within the telling of the story.

It is on 11, June 1776 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that the 2nd Continental Congress agreed to vote on the proposed articles of independence within the upcoming week. The statement to clearly define the reasons for declaring independence needed to be created. Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston as a committee to draft this declaration. Thomas Jefferson was to undertake the task to compose a document. Many of the phrases and special flourishes of language that Jefferson utilized are found in other earlier documents and literature. For example, there is wording from the Massachusetts Charter and Constitution and the Virginia Declaration of Rights also from Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Locke.

Jefferson’s "original rough draught" was revised first by Adams, then by Franklin, and then by the full committe

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