Happy Independence day folks. I hope this day finds you celebrating and enjoying time with those you love. As you barbeque, socialize, and watch parades and fireworks, join me in reflecting on bits and pieces of the history of the holiday we are celebrating.
The celebration of Independence Day is as old as our Declaration Of Independence from Britain back in our colonial days.
American colonists were proud British citizens while equal to those at home in England. But this equality disappeared with the coming of laws and taxes—imposed on them to pay royal debts. These laws and taxes burdened only the colonies. One the of the biggest impetuses for the rebellion against the British came from the Tea Act of 1773. It lowered taxes for the East India Tea company.
The East India Tea company undercut colonial merchants’ pricing since the law exclusively favored them. This gave them a monopoly in America, angering many colonists. They protested by refusing to unload tea coming into their ports, or by unloading it and leaving it to rot instead of allowing its distribution.
In one instance, the colonists refused to unload three ships in the Boston harbor. Instead of leaving the harbor, the masters of these ships chose to stay anchored, waiting for further instructions from superiors. This led to the Boston Tea Party.
A group of men known as the sons of liberty, boarded the three ships disguised as Mohawk Indians. They destroyed over 90,000 lbs. of tea, valued at around 18,000 British pounds.
There was retaliation to this from Britain of course. They closed Boston to merchant shipping, created a strong military presence throughout Massachusetts, and required colonists there to house British soldiers.
The Continental Congress convened to discuss a unified colonial resistance to England. Massachusetts created a government of their own along with a militia, while the rest of the colonies watched, debating similar courses of action.
In April of 1775 British troops marched to Lexington to destroy a colonial arsenal. Paul Revere and two others made their famous ride, warning militia men of the British march.
While passing through Concord, the British encountered a small group of militia men. They exchanged several shots, but avoided a full-scale battle. However, as the Redcoats made their way to Lexington, militia backup came and the fight was on—the first battle for American independence. The colonists won the battle and their confidence soared.
A little over a year later—July 2nd1776 the Continental Congress formally voted in favor of American independence. They dispatched a five-man committee to write the Declaration Of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was the most notable author of the document. It was published July 4th1776, and this day was held as a time of celebration from that day to this. Not that the fighting was over yet, but it was an important step in solidifying the colonial position.
In 1781 Massachusetts was the first to make the 4tha state holiday. In 1870 it became a federal holiday. But as is noted above, it was celebrated long before it became an official holiday, by proud Americans who knew the preciousness of freedom—and that it is not free.