John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail from Philadelphia after Congress declared the Colonies independent. “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 this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. Church bells rang out, drums and cannons sounded, and bonfires were lit as the people of Philadelphia people celebrated their new independence. Copies of the Declaration were dispatched with riders on horseback to the 13 colonies. When the Declaration of Independence was read in New York City, a riot broke out and a statue of King George III was torn down.
On August 2, 1776, the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence took place. Fifty-six delegates signed the Declaration with John Hancock signing his name first and making his signature the largest. By putting their names on this Declaration, they were risking not only their freedom but their lives. This was an act of treason against the King. Ben Franklin said, “we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” These men were willing to risk all for a free and independent country. Enjoy the Fourth of July and remember the sacrifices others made so that we could be free and independent. Happy Birthday America!