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July 3, 1776 Letter

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John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Quincy, Massachusetts. He was a direct descendant of Puritan colonists from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He studied at Harvard University, where he received his undergraduate degree and master’s, and in 1758 was admitted to the bar. In 1774, he served on the First Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Adams became the first vice president of the United States and the second president.

Stout elderly man in his 60s with long white hair, facing partway leftward

John Adams (1735-1826) was instrumental in negotiating in favor of independence at the Continental Congresses (1774-78), signed the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams’ famous letter of July 3, 1776, in which he wrote to his wife Abigail what his thoughts were about celebrating the Fourth of July is found on various web sites but is usually incorrectly quoted. Following is the exact text from his letter with his original spellings:

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

“(The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

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Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence – committee presents draft to Congress. Adams is depicted at center with his hand on his hip.

In 2008, HBO produced a mini series about the life and times of John Adams. I believe it is masterly told. If you have a chance to watch it, I recommend you do. Here is a clip.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrEeSVN8B1dzg8AHBQPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=john+adams+and+youtube&fr=yhs-pty-pty_email&hspart=pty&hsimp=yhs-pty_email#id=14&vid=70024796465575d49ca28d01df056de8&action=view

So today is July 4th, and it is time to celebrate our country’s birthday. What are we waiting for? Let the party begin!

Happy Birthday, America!

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In 1783, President George Washington remarked, “The citizens of this country are, from this period, as the actors on a most conspicuous theater, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.”

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And with his background of leadership in the founding of our country, he knew the men that he had worked and fought with.

We have the privilege of celebrating the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence this week. Twelve colonies had representatives who signed this document, and New York followed suit in August. It was after the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, in fact 442 days after these events in Massachusetts.

The signers were men of conviction who, by signing their names, put themselves, their families, and their land at major risk. Here are some facts that inspire me to remember them.

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Eighteen of the signers were merchants or businessmen, 14 were farmers, and four were doctors. Forty-two signers had served in their colonial legislatures. Twenty-two were lawyers—although William Hooper of North Carolina was “disbarred” when he spoke out against the Crown–and nine were judges. Stephen Hopkins had been Governor of Rhode Island. Although two others had been clergy previously, John Witherspoon of New Jersey was the only active clergyman to attend–he wore his robes to the sessions. Almost all were Protestant Christians; Charles Carroll of Maryland was the only Roman Catholic signer.

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Seven of the signers were educated at Harvard, four each at Yale and William & Mary, and three at Princeton. John Witherspoon was the president of Princeton and George Wythe was a professor at William & Mary, where his students included the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

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Seventeen of the signers served in the military during the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson was a colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment and then commanded Virginia military forces at the Battle of Yorktown. William Whipple served with the New Hampshire militia and was one of the commanding officers in the decisive Saratoga campaign. Oliver Wolcott led the Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York and commanded a brigade of militia that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne. Caesar Rodney was a Major General in the Delaware militia  and John Hancock was the same in the Massachusetts militia.

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Five of the signers were captured by the British during the war. Captains Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton (South Carolina) were all captured at the Battle of Charleston in 1780; Colonel George Walton was wounded and captured at the Battle of Savannah. Richard Stockton of New Jersey never recovered from his incarceration at the hands of British Loyalists and died in 1781.

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Colonel Thomas McKean of Delaware wrote John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox by the enemy–compelled to remove my family five times in a few months, and at last fixed them in a little log house on the banks of the Susquehanna . . . and they were soon obliged to move again on account of the incursions of the Indians.”

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Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured by the British during the war. The son of John Witherspoon, a major in the New Jersey Brigade, was killed at the Battle of Germantown.

Eleven signers had their homes and property destroyed. Francis Lewis’s New York home was destroyed and his wife taken prisoner. John Hart’s farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Thomas Nelson (both of Virginia) lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, but were never repaid.

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It sounds like it is time for a standing ovation of several minutes to honor these men, doesn’t it?

Dr. Peter Marshall once said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” I believe those signers took the opportunity to do what was right.

With leaders like this that we call the Founding Fathers, we have the privilege to sing “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and many others.

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And it is a day to party, to celebrate the birthday of the country we call home, the United States of America!

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My family had a regular menu for July 4th, and mine is always similar. It was always cold watermelon, barbeque, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and peach cobbler. Sometimes a churn of homemade ice cream was added, just because.

You probably have your favorite day all planned by now, too, by spending time with family and friends.

Happy birthday, America! Happy Fourth of July to all of you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65

 

 

 

 

A Day of Thanksgiving: July 4, 1783

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Picture of Alexander Martin  Late in June of 1783, Governor Alexander Martin of  the newly elected state of North Carolina, at the urging of the legislature, issued a proclamation stating that July 4 should be celebrated as a “Day of Thanksgiving and Peace.”

The proclamation read, “Resolved that the fourth Day of July, be and is hereby appointed a Day of General Thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God for the gratious Interposition of divine providence in behalf of this Nation: that it hath pleased him to deliver us from the Calamities of War, and Crown our wishes with the Blessings of peace; and that His Excellency the Governor notify the same by Proclamation.”

The Moravians were an industrious, inventive, highly organized, devout people who valued education for all. Their way of life can be observed today at a living museum called Old Salem.

They also had a strong pacifist tradition, dating to their founding amid the religious struggles of the 15th century as a “peace church.” Members were forbidden to serve in the military. They lived by the teachings in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

It’s little wonder that by 1783, the Moravians in Salem were thrilled that the battles were over. During the Revolution, both British and rebels harassed them, collected fines, and even attacked them physically. Some young men hid in the forest to escape being pressed into service. A few did join with the rebels; the church forgave them later.

The Moravians kept detailed records and diaries of each day in their community, and these words commemorate that day in 1783.

“According to the order of the government of this State we celebrated a day of thanksgiving for the restoration of peace. The congregation was awakened by the trombonists.

At the beginning of the preaching service the Te Deum was sung, with trombone accompaniment.

The Watch-Word for January 20th, the day on which the Peace Preliminaries were signed, was: The God of Jacob is our refuge, which was preached by Br. Benzien. The service closed with the singing of: Glory to God in the highest.

At two o’clock there was a happy love feast, during which a Psalm of Joy was sung with thankful hearts.

In the evening at eight o’clock the congregation again assembled in the Saal, and the choir sang: Praise be to Thee, Who sittest above the cherubim.

Then the congregation formed a circle in from the Gemeinhaus, and from there passed in procession through the main street of the town,with music and the antiphonal song of two choirs. The street was illuminated. Returning to the Gemein Haus the congregation again formed a circle, and with the blessing of the Lord was dismissed to rest.

Hearts were filled with the peace of God, evident during the entire day and especially during the procession, and all around there was silence, even the wind being still.” (from Records of the Moravians in North Carolina)

The Love Feast, a Moravian tradition that is more a celebration of community than a sacrament, was a regular part of this community. The simple meal included coffee heavy with cream and sugar, plus a sweet bun.

The log Gemenhaus, built in 1756,  burned and was rebuilt in 1788.

The church, call the “Gemeinhaus” even in the earliest records of the community of Bethabara, served as a residence for the minister and other church workers and had a “Saal” – a “meeting hall” – for the congregation; the most accepted translation of “Gemeinhaus” being “congregation house.”

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Moravians believe in the clear word of God;“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22,23 The first printed edition of the Daily Texts (Losungen) was published in Herrnhut, Saxony, in 1731. The title page of that edition quoted this passage from Lamentations and promised a daily message from God that would be new every morning.

For each of the 365 days in the year, they read from the Daily Texts that give them a specific Word/watchword for the day and a doctrinal response.

During the crucial days of the Revolution, the German-language edition was printed in Philadelphia by Heinrich Miller, who had worked for Benjamin Franklin when he first came to America. The daily text for July 4, 1776, was from Isaiah 55:5-“Behold, you shall call nations that you know not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you” (RSV).

This all-day celebration is the first one documented in our country, and this is still reenacted today in Old Salem.

Several years ago, John and I participated in the walk around the square on July 4. Just like in the year of 1783, there was singing thankfully of the day we celebrated. As I look forward to July 4, 2016, I am truly grateful to be an American. Learning about the lives of those that fought for our country during the Revolutionary War, I am amazed at their courage and perseverance to battle against England; they were fearless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZZf619DIpo

Happy Fourth of July!

 

 

He Doffed His Hat To Me!

Walking toward the visitor’s center at Musgrove Mill Historical Site on Saturday, I met a re-enactor. He, not only bowed to me, but doffed his hat! In response, I nodded my head.

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The action of respect took me aback. Silent words of greeting were spoken, and for a moment, I felt like a queen. No, I was not attired as one; there was no crown on my head or long gown trailing behind me, but my presence had been noted with 18th century courtesy. In those years, this cultural expression was one of recognition, respect, gratitude, or simple greeting between two persons.

In retrospect, I believe I might have straightened my shoulders a bit and walked on with a slight smile. The unexpected salutation made me more aware of the manners that have changed in our world.

There is a connection between doffing and donning. One of the first uses of it in print can be found in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, published around 1470. He wrote, “Doffe of thy clothes, And knele in thy kyrtylle” (tunic or petticoat).

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The English bard, William Shakespeare, frequently used  ‘doff,’ often in a figurative manner. In the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet entreats Romeo to change his name with the words, “Romeo, doff thy name.” In the The Taming of the Shrew,  Baptista chides the bridegroom with “Fie, doff this habit, shame to your estate”.

Obviously, we can don hats, clothes, or even character traits. Equally easy, all can be later doffed. These archaic words simply describe the actions of “do on” or “do off.”

A minister calling on a parishioner

From the 16th to the 18th centuries in England, the donning and doffing of hats was governed by a code of etiquette and custom that it is hard for us now to appreciate. Each man of standing wore a hat, and the form of hat and the rules were a part of society. This custom filtered down in society to the working classes, who greeted the gentry with a doff.

English settlers brought this custom with them, and polite society expected this courtesy on a new continent.

In the 21st century, men no longer routinely wear hats. Both my grandfathers and great-grandfathers traditionally wore hats when they left their homes. When they entered a building, they removed their hats. My dad owned a few hats and wore them occasionally for specific times; he owned a rain hat, a golf cap, a Master’s hat, and a Derby hat. Slowly hats have lost their places.

Whether a national leader or a farmer, men doffed their hats well into the 20th century.

Image result for art print: british prime minister winston churchill doffing hat outsidBritish Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill

On July 4, 1892, there was a joint meeting to celebrate our nation’s birthday. This clear, sunny day was lightened with a calm breeze off the Potomac River.

The Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of the Revolution, and the Order of the Cincinnati met together at 9:00 at the Church of the Epiphany in our nation’s capitol. The organ refrain of God Save the State was as loud as the singing of America in this special religious and patriotic service.

A Chaplain gave directions for the order of the processional to the monument, and the men and women, on foot and in carriages, took their places. The Daughters of the American Revolution were at the end. As the parade reached the corner of G and the Fifteenth Street, business men hurried out of a hotel.

Police held back people and cars from interrupting the walk. Seeing the elegantly dressed men and women in the street, a gentleman asked, “Officer, what is this?”

The response was, “The Sons and Daughters of the Revolution.”

In one motion, that same man doffed his hat. All down the street, man after man followed suit as the men and women passed. Until all in the procession passed, no hats returned to their respective heads. It was a tribute to not only those who walked the streets of Washington, DC, but also for the memory of those who fought during the Revolutionary War. (from First “Safe and Sound” Movement by Helen Hardin Walworth, Founder and Honorary Vice President General NSDAR)

There are no photographs of this scene, but in my imagination those doffed hats respectfully speak to both the past and the future of our nation.

Golf has been dubbed the gentleman’s sport. I grew up in a family of golfers and was privileged to attend the Master’s on several occasions. There is something about how the golfers greet their fans as they walk up the fairway. Standing to their feet and loud clapping greet the golfers, and the players respond with a doffed cap or visor.

Phil Mickelson

Albert Einstein said, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”

No, doffing one’s hat is neglected in society these days, but respect is always in fashion.

 

Happy Fourth of July Newsletter

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Happy July 4, 2014!
Growing up, fried chicken and blackberry cobbler were the mainstays of our July 4th celebration. The chicken was finger-lickin’ good, and often there was homemade vanilla ice cream as a topping for the cobbler. Mother cooked the chicken in a large black skillet with Crisco, and there were always plenty of crunchies left in the pan for making gravy, if desired.
We went to pick the wild blackberries on Highway 29; they grew up the shoulder. I have no snake stories, but there were always scratches from the stickers. Filling the buckets took quite a while, because Critt and I tended to eat three or four, before one hit the bucket.
There were no laws to keep us from shooting off fireworks. Rockets, firecrackers, and sparklers were our favorites. The sparklers fascinated me, and I was amazed at the lighted stars. There were never enough of them, in my opinion, no matter how many were bought.
So minus the fireworks, I will serve fried chicken, probably bought from either Publix or KFC, on Friday. I bought the blackberries and will make the crust especially for our guests that need gluten-free dishes.
The ice cream is another story entirely; I will use Mother’s recipe that calls for Eagle Brand milk and whole milk. At least there is an electric churn, rather than the hand crank we used to use. We all put our time in turning the crank, so we earned our big scoops.
Since we haven’t made any ice cream since last year, I might just have dessert first!
There is something about the tastes, sounds, sights, and smells of yesterday that never leave us, and that is a blessing in my book.
This newsletter will be posted on my blog this month. In fact, I am thinking that I will include it as one of my blog posts. If you haven’t visited my web page, I believe you might enjoy some of the posts.
One of you readers has a chance to win a free signed copy of my latest book, Brave Elizabeth. It is the biography of Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, the mother of President Andrew Jackson. I will mail it to someone who makes a legitimate post about your remembrances of July 4.
Book Signing:
July 19-24 – National Sons of the American Revolution Convention at Hyatt in Greenville, SC