John Adams Accurately Predicted How Independence Day Would Be Celebrated but Got Date Wrong

Declaration of Independence signer John Adams predicted, with astounding accuracy, how the people of the United States would celebrate their liberty in the generations to come.

But he did get the date the celebration would occur wrong.

By the summer of 1776, anticipation had been growing for months that the 13 colonies would declare their independence.

The “shot heard around the world” had been fired at the village green in Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, marking the beginning of the war with Great Britain. Other fighting followed thereafter.

Then in January 1776, Thomas Paine wrote his wildly successful “Common Sense,” forcefully making the case for independence.

In March of that year, Abigail Adams wrote from Massachusetts to her husband John Adams, a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency.”

Adams served on the five-person drafting committee for the Declaration that included Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Livingston of New Jersey and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

In mid-June 1776, they were tasked with writing a statement that would justify to the world the colonies’ decision to become a separate nation.

On July 1, the Continental Congress reconvened to take up the issue of independence.

The following day, July 2, the Congress considered a resolution offered by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.

“That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved,” the document read.

The Congress voted to sever ties with the mother country.

“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,” Adams wrote Abigail on July 3.

“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,” he added.

And that’s exactly what has happened. It’s interesting that his wording suggests that Adams foresaw the United States eventually crossing the whole North American continent.

What Adams did not anticipate is that July 4, 1776, is the date Americans would grab on to, the day the Declaration was adopted.

The date appears prominently right at the top of the document.

Certainly by the 50th anniversary of the United States, Adams was well aware that July 4 was the date of celebration.

On July 4th, 1826, both he and Jefferson were still alive, but in failing health.

Adams wrote the organizer of the Washington, D.C. Jubilee commemoration thanking him for the invitation to be part of the event but lamenting “my health forbids me to indulge the hope of participating only with my best wishes for the increasing prosperity of your City.”

Jefferson also sent his regrets that he could not attend.

“I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made,” he penned.

Then in the ultimate coup de grâce, both Adams and Jefferson died on the very day of the 50th anniversary celebration of the adoption of the Declaration.

The great orator and Massachusetts statesman Daniel Webster observed in a eulogy for Jefferson and Adams, “Poetry itself has hardly terminated illustrious lives, and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. If we had the power, we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of the Divine Providence.”

“It cannot but seem striking and extraordinary that these two should live to see the fiftieth year from the date of that act; that they should complete that year; and that then, on the day which had fast linked forever their own fame with their country’s glory, the heavens should open to receive them both at once,” Webster added.

So in death, Adams had affirmed that July 4, not July 2, was the date American independence should be remembered and lauded.

Randy DeSoto is the author of the book “We Hold These Truths” about the influence of the Declaration of Independence throughout Unites States history. 


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

 

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