By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday is the Fourth of July. This day every year is a celebration of America. The Fourth is a holiday celebration complete with fireworks, barbecue, family, patriotic music, and fun in the backyard, the beach, or at the lake.
The day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the members of the Continental Congress 241 years ago on July 4th, 1776.
The American Revolution began a year earlier. On the night of April 18, 1775, British General Thomas Gage sent 700 British regulars from Boston under Colonel Francis Smith with orders to go to Lexington to arrest outspoken independence leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to Concord to seize weapons being stockpiled by a growing American militia movement in rural Massachusetts.
Unfortunately for the British this move was anticipated by the Americans who were watching for them to leave the city. Riders, including Paul Revere rode out ahead of the British Army to warn that the British Army was coming for the Americans and their guns. On April 19th the column reached the small town of Lexington in Middlesex County to arrest Hancock and Adams. Instead they met a small force of 77 armed militia under Captain John Parker. The commanders on both sides ordered their troops not to shoot.
Somebody, whether it was a British soldier or American Minuteman or spectator disregarded those orders and fired one shot. Both forces then exchanged fire until the much smaller American force left the field. Eight Americans had been killed and ten wounded. The British had just one wounded so the column moved on to Concord where the British force divided into companies to search for weapons. At Concord’s North Bridge, approximately 100 British regulars engaged a force of four hundred Americans, The British retreated back to the main column as more American militias began arriving. Col. Smith after completing his weapons search headed back to Boston. As more militia flooded into the area numerical superiority quickly switched to the Americans. A relieving force of 1,700 British regulars under General Hugh Percy rescued Smith and the British retreated back to Boston.
War had begun and it rapidly escalated and widened, much of the fighting between Americans loyal to the crown and those favoring independence. A Continental Congress was called to represent the colonies. Moderates tried and failed to reconcile the two sides. Eventually the Continental Congress’ made the decision to declare independence from Britain. The writer of the Declaration was Thomas Jefferson.
In the Declaration Jefferson wrote, “WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”
“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—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But 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. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
The War would not end until September 3, 1783.
The Fourth is a national holiday and all government offices will be closed on Tuesday. Gov. Kay Ivey has declared today also a State holiday.