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Why Americans Throw Party on Fourth of July

If you could channel John Adams, he would be very pleased to see that the nation still celebrated this event

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Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments It was founding father John Adams who first suggested that Americans should throw an annual party. VOA

It was founding father John Adams who first suggested that Americans should throw an annual party — a “great anniversary festival” —  to celebrate the nation’s independence from England.

In a July 3, 1776, letter to his beloved wife Abigail, America’s second president wrote, “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 forevermore.”

“If you could channel John Adams, he would be very pleased to see that the nation still celebrated this event which he thought should be marked forever,” says Mary Beth Norton, a recently retired professor of history at Cornell University and author of a forthcoming book, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. “Even though they’re not doing it on the day that he thought they would.”

Adams thought the nation’s independence should be celebrated on July 2. That’s when the Continental Congress, the body of delegates that governed the American colonies, actually voted for independence from England.

Americans, Party, July
Artist John Trumbull titled this painting, “The Declaration of Independence,” but it depicts a scene that never took place because the signers of the declaration never gathered in one place at the same time to sign the document. VOA

The written Declaration of Independence, the nation’s founding document, was dated July 4, 1776. However, the document wasn’t actually signed until August 2. Fifty-six delegates eventually signed, although not all at once and not all on August 2.

“People were in and out, and when they had the opportunity they came and signed it,” says Norton. “But there was no scene…of all of them sort of standing around waiting to sign a declaration.”’

The Declaration of Independence famously states that all men are created equal and that they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The founding fathers saw women’s education as critical to the future of the fledgling republic and insisted that women, as well as men, be educated after the Revolution.

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“They basically said, ‘We need every citizen of the Republic, including women,’ even though they couldn’t vote at that point and were not going to vote for another more than 100 years, ‘we need them to be active participants in the nation. They need to know the national history because they need to teach their children,’” Norton says.

Today, the ways in which Americans celebrate the Fourth of July differ. Many will host or attend cookouts. The three most popular foods that’ll be consumed are hamburgers, barbecued meats and hotdogs, according to a recent survey conducted by TopCashBack.com.

Attending a fireworks celebration is also high on many people’s lists.

Whatever they do, 86 percent of Americans say they plan to actively celebrate Independence Day.

 

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FILE — About 60% of Americans planned to have or attend a cookout on Independence Day 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. VOA

Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, believes widespread enthusiasm for the holiday stems from the fact that Independence Day honors all Americans.

“It’s celebrating democratic institutions, principles of freedom, principles of equality,” he says. “We can all get behind that. It’s not a single religion. It’s not a single group. It honors all Americans for their participation in civic culture, beginning with a group of Americans who gathered to declare the nation to be independent based upon a set of principles that are very admirable.”

One of the most memorable Fourth of July speeches was given by Frederick Douglass, a social reformer and writer who’d escaped slavery in Maryland.

He highlighted the hypocrisy of the ideals of freedom in a country where enslaved people remained in bondage. Speaking at an Independence Day celebration on July 5, 1852, Douglass famously asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

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“He basically says, ‘Yeah, this is about freedom and that doesn’t pertain to us in this country,’” says Grossman, adding that Douglass pointed out, “the distance between the principles enunciated in America’s founding documents and the ways in which American politics and social order had played out since the 1770s.”

Norton believes Americans should take the time this Fourth of July to reflect upon their role in ensuring America remains a republic based on the notion that people can govern themselves.

 

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An undated photo of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. VOA

“For me, it’s a day to reflect on everybody’s responsibilities to the nation, which goes far beyond the military’s responsibilities to the nation,” Norton says. “I think it’s everyone’s mutual responsibility to maintain the republic… this was something that very much concerned Adams and the other leaders of the revolution. They knew the history of the Roman Republic and how it had turned into a dictatorship.” (VOA)

Next Story

Giving Back: Here’s How to Help Those In Need After Natural Disasters

Te aftermath of Natural Disasters is the worst. People lose property and life and that is why you need to help them out

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A new poll revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans see natural disasters worsening as time goes on and those surveyed feel that it’s due to global warming. Pixabay

How many times have you been sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show and then all of a sudden, it interrupted by a “Breaking News” story? Within the past year, it’s happened all too often… 

“Massive tsunami strikes Hawaii leaving 57 dead and the number is steadily rising” 

Or

“Hurricane Shawn continues to wreak havoc in the Carribean, leaving millions of natives homeless”

We’ve all seen these types of “Breaking News” stories and felt so much empathy and sympathy for those affected by those natural disasters, yet we sit warm and cozy on our comfortable couches just shaking our heads in disbelief. 

It’s tough seeing lives lost due to natural disasters but unfortunately, these things happen all the time. A new poll revealed that nearly three-quarters of Americans see natural disasters worsening as time goes on and those surveyed feel that it’s due to global warming…

As you watch the news and see the millions of families walking around in despair, you feel compelled to help them… So what do you do? You grab an old box and start loading it with clothes you don’t wear anymore and shoes you no longer can fit. In your mind, you’re thinking you’re doing the right thing and helping but in doing that, you’re actually not helping at all… you’re actually making things harder for relief workers.

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Donating clothes and cell phones can be helpful for people who have suffered from natural disasters. Pixabay

There is this thing called the “disaster after the disaster” and this is when post-disaster donations become so overwhelming that they become more of a burden than a help, more so because people donate things that can’t be used, according to npr.org

In an effort to help, people will go in their pantries and grab canned goods and other non-perishable items that have expired or foods that have already been opened… those are items that are being donated to those in need and those are also items that pose health risks and cannot be given to anyone. So relief workers then have to sort through those and dispose of them, taking them away from helping the families in need.

If you feel compelled to help, please do! Families are still trying to recover from natural disasters that have long gone and they need everyone’s help. But if you want to donate, first take a look at the items that will be most beneficial to those in need.

How to Help Those in Need

Host a Community Food Drive

When natural disasters strike an area, the families affected have lost everything they owned and one of the best ways you can help them is to host a food drive. You want to send non-perishable items like canned goods, dried goods, bottled water, dehydrated foods, and even water filters. When donating these items also be sure to check the dates on them… just because non-perishable foods have a longer shelf life, doesn’t mean they don’t have an expiration date.

Get with your local churches and businesses to see about coordinating a drive. Once you have all donated items, you can package everything up and deliver it to larger organizations that can have the packages delivered to the areas that need help.

Donate Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies is something that not too many people think about when it comes to helping with natural disasters but what people forget is that some homes are actually able to be salvaged with a little elbow grease and cleaning supplies. Things like gloves, masks, bleach, and paper towels and rags are going to go a long way for those who can salvage their home.

For those affected, you have to remember, a major part of a new start is also a clean one.

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Monetary donations are always going to be the best way to help those in need after natural disasters. Pixabay

Donate Cell Phones

You’re probably thinking, what is a cell phone going to do during this time? Well, what you don’t know is that donating cell phones is going to help those in need tremendously. When a lot of these natural disasters hit, cell phones are the last things on their minds… their main concern is to stay alive!

By donating cell phones, they will at least have a device to use once they get back on their feet and won’t have to buy one. If you hadn’t noticed, cell phones are very expensive, so imagine the financial relief you’ll be providing them by donating a cell phone. 

Maybe you have a few extra cell phones at home and if you don’t, you can buy pre-owned cell phones that will give those affected a way to communicate with their loved ones to let them know they’re okay. The thing about pre-owned cell phones is that they’re in great condition and they’re reasonably priced.

Consider getting with your local churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations to host a cell phone drive. For reasonably priced pre-owned cell phones, visit glyde.com/buy

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Donate Money

Monetary donations are always going to be the best way to help. Organizations like the American Red Cross and Save the Children are always accepting monetary donations to put towards families in need after natural disasters. Check with your local non-profit organizations to see how you can help those in need.