bill-swift - July 5, 2012
Today is the Fourth of July, the birthday to the greatest damn country in the world. People say to me all the time, "We aren't the only free nation in the world,". No, but we are the most awesome. If free countries are like bears, France and Switzerland are like Koala bears and America is like a grizzly cyborg with laser eyes. Today, millions of people will grill meat and blow things up. What could be a more fitting celebration of 'Merica? For 236 years, July 4th has stood as the most sacred day in our national calendar. But not everything about the fourth is what it seems. So, crack open a cheeseburger, refill your beer helmet, and check out these 5 July 4th myths and facts.
July 2nd America's Real Birthday?
Imagine Independence Hall in the summer of July 2nd: 60 sweaty, unwashed, middle-aged men in pantyhose suffocating in an un-air conditioned room during one of the hottest summers in Philadelphia history. They were absolutely miserable and they wanted to get the hell out of there. In other words, America's birthday stunk of B.O. The delegates had been arguing about what to do about England for weeks. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress decided they were going to inform King George to piss off. Grumpy frump John Adams thought that July 2nd would be seen as America's birthday. He wrote to his wife Abigail, "The great anniversary festival will one day be celebrated with Pomp and Parade...Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other,". Much like his Gallagher style haircut, he was wrong about this too.
Jefferson Wasn't Supposed To Write The Declaration
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia was the real force behind the move towards independence. Lee was a well respected representative from Virginia. He was better known than his shy ginger colleague Thomas Jefferson. It was Lee who proposed the motion to declare Independence on July 2nd. So, he was appointed to lead the committee to draft the F-off letter to king Georgey. The committee included John Adams, Ben Franklin, and old Nickle himself, Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately, Lee's wife was sick and he to get back to Virginia. He wanted Adams to draft it, but Adams decided that Jefferson would be a better fit. Mainly because Jefferson was a better writer and no one like Adams, because he was kind of an ass.
The Declaration Wasn't Signed Until August 2nd
The only person who signed the Declaration on July 4th was John Hancock. On the 4th, the Declaration was approved by Congress and its president, John Hancock, signed it into effect. The rest of the delegates signed the document sporadically over the next few weeks, finally finishing on August 2nd. That's why Hancock's signature is so pronounced. Imagine that you had to sign a contract and you were the only one who had to sign. It would be bigger right? Then you have to cram in another 56 signatures. Legend has it that Hancock quipped, "I signed it large enough for King George to read it without his spectacles". Pretty Pithy, Hancock.
Want To Celebrate The 4th Old School Style? Burn An Effigy.
Everyone likes fireworks, but you know what's really cool? Burning an effigy. Back on the first July 4th, the most common public celebration across the 13 colonies was to burn an effigy of King George. His Majesty was the symbol of everything the colonists hated about England: despotism, monarchy, and stupid powdered wigs. His metaphorical body was spit on, drug through the streets, and set aflame. This was what the mob would have done with the real King George if they could have gotten their hands on him. So, today why don't you make an effigy of whoever you hate and set them on fire. Your boss, Your mother-in-law, or TV's Dave Coulier.
Jefferson, Adams, And Monroe All Died On July 4th
If that isn't cosmic irony, I don't know what is. America's greatest frenemies, Adams and Jefferson, not only both died on the July 4th, they died on its 50th anniversary. They had been fading in and out for days, but they wanted to hang on until the day that had made them both immortal. Jefferson's final words were, "Is it the fourth?", before he died in the arms of his mistress/slave/baby mama Sally Hemings. Adams' final words were to whine "And Jefferson lives...". James Monroe would also die on July 4th in 1831. If one believes in the hand of providence's eyeball on the back of the dollar bill or whatever, one might say that it was preordained.
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