‘The patient suffering of these Colonies’

Published 6:35 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Americans shoot fireworks, watch parades, grill summertime food, play baseball, enjoy concerts and spend time with friends and family on the Fourth of July. But if there ever was a holiday whose true meaning gets breezed over amid all the fun times, it is this one.

In fact, its true name of Independence Day is often skipped in favor of the Fourth of July. Not even Christmas, with all its commercialism, gets called the Twenty-fifth of December.

July 2, 1776, was the day the Second Continental Congress formally voted to declare independence from British rule. It was thought by John Adams and others that July 2 might be the day Americans celebrate independence. However, the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence was July 4, so that was the day on the much-publicized document. Because that’s what the citizens of the new country saw, that became they day they celebrated independence.

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Hence, while independence had been declared July 2, Independence Day became July 4 from the start.

The Declaration of Independence is more or less an explanation of why the 13 colonies decided to break away from Great Britain. But it is known the world over for its stirring language. Here are some segments to stir your patriotism this Independence Day:

• “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

• “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”

• “We, therefore, the Representatives of the [sic] united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, 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; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”