As we head toward our big midsummer celebration, remember that if John Adams had been right, you’d be celebrating two days earlier!
On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress legally separated itself from Great Britain. President-to-be John Adams wrote to his wife that the “second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 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.”
Well, he was off by a couple days, since the holiday we now have celebrates the date when that same Continental Congress approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence (sort of the explanation for why the colonies separated themselves), famously composed by Thomas Jefferson, but with some help from a committee (it was, after all, Congress!)
Some historians think the Declaration wasn’t finished being signed until a month later, in early August — but perhaps the far-sighted Founding Fathers knew that would eventually be too close to Labor Day?
50 years later, the two surviving Presidents who’d signed the Declaration — Adams and Jefferson — both passed on the same day: July 4, 1826.
Of course, a Revolutionary War would have to be fought as well. By 1775, it was estimated there was $12 million worth of gold in the colonies (this was, of course, 75 years or so before the “Gold Rush” in then far-off California), but it was reckoned the war cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 million to wage!
There were delays of soldiers’ pay, and requisitioning of goods to make it all work. Congress itself issued two types of paper money, but these were quickly seen to be essentially worthless (sometimes redeemed for a penny on the dollar) while at the same time, states were issuing their own currencies. Bonds were issued — set to be redeemable in 1791 — but a lot of the wealthy merchants who could afford them actually supported the Crown!
France, however, helped out by supplying the Americans with gunpowder, arms — and money — and bankers in Paris and Amsterdam made loans to the Americans (which were actually repaid before the 1800s rolled around!) They perhaps figured that what was bad for Britain, was good for them.
It all eventually worked out, of course. So here’s hoping you have a joyous celebration of all that those French and Dutch loans made possible, replete with “games, bells, sports, bonfires” (well, watching fireworks, maybe?) and more! And of course, with credit a little easier to come by these days, be sure to get in touch with your AVPS rep after the holiday, so your customers can easily shop with you (instead of trying to figure out how to get a line of credit from Amsterdam!)