Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. I have been looking for ways to make our holiday celebrations reflect the true meanings of the holidays. John Adams writing to his wife Abigail about the vote for independence on July 2, 1776 said,
“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 commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. 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.”
We now celebrate on July 4, the day it was announced to the public, but July 2 was known as Deliverance Day to the founders.
We always have a big cookout (lots of great food) and invite lots of friends. Ever since I did my research for my book about the signers of Declaration for Independence, For You They Signed, we pass out statements about the sacrifices that some of the signers made for our freedom and have our guests and family members each read one to help us remember the great sacrifice these men willingly gave on our behalf. Here are some of them you are welcome to use at your celebration if you wish:
Francis Lewis of NY– The British burned Lewis’ home in September of 1776, seized his aging wife, and held her in a prison with no bed and no change of clothes. She was finally released two years later, but her health was gone and she died shortly thereafter.
Philip Livingston of NY– Livingston’s 150,00 acre estate was seized by the British, but he continued to contribute his dwindling fortune to Congress for the war effort. The physical strain of the revolution took a toll on his health and he died less than two years after signing.
Lewis Morris of NY- Morris’ Westchester estate was ransacked by the British and nearly 1,000 acres were burned. His home was destroyed, his cattle butchered, and his family driven from their home.
John Hart of NJ- John Hart, father of 13 children, was tending to his ailing wife when his neighbors told him the British were coming down his road to capture him. He said he would stay with his wife, but his neighbors promised to care for her and begged him to escape as he was too important to the cause. He fled to the woods where he lived for over a year. Never sleeping in the same spot two nights in a row, he slept in caves, hollow, wherever he could find. During the cruel December winters he slept with a dog to keep warm. On returning to his home when the British retreated from NJ, he found it looted, burned, his wife had died and his children were scattered by the British. He died shortly thereafter from the toll on his health.
Richard Stockton of NJ- Richard Stockton while rushing home to rescue his family, was taken captive by the British and thrown into prison, where he was repeatedly beaten and nearly starved. The British destroyed his home and burned all his papers. As a result of his mistreatment, he became an invalid and died in 1781.
Arthur Middleton of SC- Arthur was captured, and imprisoned after the British ravaged his plantation.
Thomas Heyward of SC- served in the army and was taken prisoner. The British raided his plantation, while he was in prison and burned his buildings. His wife became ill and died before he was released.
Carter Braxton of VA saw virtually every merchant ship he owned sunk or captured by the British. He lost his wealth and was forced to sell his land.
William Ellery of RI had his Newport home burned.
William Paca of MD- poured thousands of his own dollars into clothing American soldiers.
Robert Morris of PA personally gave over 2 million dollars to the cause. He personally funded Washington’s crossing the Delaware and Yorktown. The country was never able to repay him. He spent his later years in debtor’s prison.
Thomas McKean of DE reported to John Adams that he was “hunted like a fox” during the revolution and at one time he was “compelled to move my family five times in a few months.”
Caeser Rodney of DE- relinquished all hope of cure for his skin cancer by choosing to stay in America and fight for freedom rather than go to England to seek a cure. He was absent from Congress when the resolution for independence was being voted on, as he was helping to squelch a Loyalist uprising. Returning home at night, feeling rather sick, he received a message from Thomas McKean. John Dickenson from DE planned to vote against independence. McKean was for independence. Rodney was needed to cast the deciding vote. He jumped on his horse without even taking time to change his clothes and rode 80 miles all night long through a driving thunderstorm stopping only to change horses. As John Hancock rose to open the session, hoof beats were heard on the cobblestone pavement outside and in came Rodney, all wet and bedraggled. He sunk to his seat and rose to cast the vote that called for OUR independence!!