Hey, let’s have some fun and celebrate Independence Day. Certainly, let’s do it! However, often we do not think beyond the one-dimensional, superficial excitement of having fun to have a more deep understanding and awareness of Independence Day. What is the deeper meaning of this day and celebrating the 4th of July? What are some things we may not think about that occurred in our early history that still resonate today for all of us?
Well, as you know, this day is very significant in American history. It marks the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted (July 4, 1776), and the United States officially became its own nation. It’s America’s birthday! We Americans celebrate America’s birthday with parades, hot dogs, fireworks, our favorite “beverage,” barbecues, perhaps fun target shooting at the range (without that favorite beverage), and other fun activities. But Independence Day is more than hot dogs, fireworks, paid time off from work, and fun events. There is a deeper, more meaningful rationale for what most of us take for granted and have fun celebrating.
For this Independence Day celebration, there are some related and very significant historical events, information, influences, and facts that some may not be aware of. Our freedom and gun ownership and use rights have a basis in the early American fight for freedom and independence in the American Revolutionary War. Our early military members and veterans fought and died for our freedom, liberty, and rights.
Do we remember the factual history and fundamentals of our country’s beginning? Why did we want to become independent from Great Britain? What were the key issues and factors that spurred our quest for independence from Great Britain? Can you name the original 13 colonies? What early U.S. President and Founding Father refused to attend July 4th events and why? Why is Richard Henry Lee so important? Here are some important historical events and factors about our independence and freedoms, lest we not forget them for our future generations.
The 13 Colonies and Independence from the British
America declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. In order to fully understand the significance of Independence Day, we need to reflect on our history. Before America was its own country, it was comprised of 13 Colonies established by the British.
The 13 Colonies were: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The first colony was settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. European countries, especially Great Britain, continued to colonize America throughout the 17th century and a good portion of the 18th century. By 1775, an estimated 2.5 million settlers lived in the 13 Colonies.
Tyranny, Taxes, and Confiscation of Guns
Tensions started brewing when Great Britain passed legislation that gave it more control within the Colonies, especially when it came to taxing the colonists. The British Crown was in debt after the French and Indian War, so it started taxing the American Colonies to boost revenue. The passage of legislation like the Stamp Act in March 1765, the Townshend Acts in June and July of 1767, and the Tea Act of 1773 forced colonists to pay more money to Great Britain, even though the Colonies didn’t have a say in the Crown’s policies. This became known as “taxation without representation,” a concept that was a heated issue in the American Revolution.
Events like the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party further escalated tensions between British occupiers and American colonists. Those tensions exploded in April 1775 when the Battles of Lexington and Concord broke out in Massachusetts as British forces attempted to confiscate weapons from the colonists. It was the first time Colonial militias battled British troops, and thus, the American Revolutionary War began against tyranny and coercion.
Great Britain’s Rulers Wanted Control and Disarmament
In 1768, the British Governor said of the American colonists that “the inhabitants of the Province are to be disarmed and the Province to be governed by Martial Law, with a number of gentlemen who have exerted themselves in the cause of their country, to be seized and sent to Great Britain.” In 1777, William Knox, British Under Secretary of State, advocated the creation of a ruling British aristocracy and an unlimited power to tax. Knox also offered the panacea of disarming all of the American colonists and relying solely on a standing British army for control. He said the “Militia Laws should be repealed, and the arms of all the people should be taken away and every piece of Ordnance removed into the King’s Stores… they will have but little need of such things for the future, as the King’s Troops, Ship Forts will be sufficient to protect them from any danger,” according to H. Peckman in Sources of American Independence 176, 1978.
The Spark that Ignited America’s War for Independence
On April 19, 1775, about 800 British troops went to Concord, Massachusetts, to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock and to seize weapons known to be stored in Concord. Gun confiscation is usually a good initial indicator of power control and loss of independence… and it certainly was here. Adams and Hancock were staying at Pastor Jonas Clark’s residence.
Paul Revere’s Warning and the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”
In 1775, the Massachusetts Safety Committee employed Paul Revere as an express rider to carry news and messages as far away as New York and Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere to warn Pastor Clark that the British troops were on their way to arrest the men, seize their guns, and destroy gunpowder, ammunition, and cannons stockpiled nearby. Revere contacted Robert Newman (probably) of Christ Church in Boston and told him to hold two lit lanterns in the church’s tower as a signal that the British are coming. About an estimated 60 to 70 citizen militia from the Church of Lexington stood armed on Lexington Green, awaiting the Red Coats. British troops engaged the militia, and there was a “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”
The July 2, 1776, Congressional Approval for Independence
At a June 1776 Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, Virginia, statesman Richard Henry Lee proposed a motion for the Colonies to declare independence from Britain. A committee was formed to draft an official independence document, which became known as the Declaration of Independence. On July 2, 1776, Lee’s motion for independence was approved by Congress. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted—and America became a free nation. After declaring independence, America continued to fight in the Revolutionary War and officially defeated Great Britain in September 1783.
Unfamiliar 4th of July Facts
- Some colonists celebrated Independence Day during the summer of 1776 by putting on mock funerals for King George III of England—symbolizing the death of the Crown’s rule on America.
- The first annual commemoration of Independence Day happened on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia.
- John Adams, a Founding Father and the second President of the United States strongly believed Independence Day should be celebrated on July 2. He even refused to attend 4th of July events because he felt so strongly about July 2 being the correct celebration date, when the motion was approved by Congress.
- John Adams (1826), Thomas Jefferson (1826), and James Monroe (1831) U.S. Founding Fathers and Presidents all died on July 4.
- Thomas Jefferson was the first president to celebrate Independence Day at the White House, in 1801. The celebration featured horse races, parades, food, and drinks like the 4th of July celebrations we see today.
- Although the 4th of July has been celebrated each year since 1776, it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870. And it didn’t become a paid holiday for federal employees until 1941.
ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM, LIBERTY, INDIVIDUALISM, AND INDEPENDENCE!
STAY PATRIOTIC, MY FRIENDS!
Image Credit: NRA American Rifleman, 2015.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters and situations. The author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2023 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col. Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.