July 3, 2012

July 4, 1776: A Leap into the Unknown

[Activity: Make General Washington’s Commander –in– Chief Flag]
Happy July 4th! I always take time to remember what those hot days meant to people in 1776—danger, joy, fear, disbelief, sadness. July 4th, 1776, was the day Americans leapt into the unknown. Some remained loyal to the crown; others embraced independence betting “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” on a new nation.

Loyalists had already witnessed a decade of mob action from men they viewed as lawless rebels. Now the rebels had dragged them over the edge. Wrote one man, “They call me a brainless Tory; but tell me…which is better—to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?” Another loyalist penned a poem, “The Cry was for Liberty—Lord what a Fuss! But pray, how much liberty left they for us?”

Events branded men like Franklin, Washington and Jefferson as traitors. Not that they cared. Jefferson wrote the document that severed our ties with Great Britain and Franklin cheered him on, bucking Jefferson up when the debates and edits wounded the most.
As delegates voted to approve the Declaration, Washington waited in New York for the certain arrival of British troops. He spread his thin forces around Brooklyn Heights, Harlem Heights, Long Island, Manhattan Island and Staten Island. A few days after the first British troops landed on Staten Island, riders galloping from Philadelphia brought word that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted. On July 9th Washington had the Declaration read to his soldiers. Everything had changed; the Continental Army now fought for the birth of a new nation.
1776 brought defeat after defeat to the badly outnumbered Americans. As the year closed, and many of Washington’s troops prepared to disband, he tried to rally his men to the cause—the new nation needed them desperately. “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake…You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you….The present is…the crisis which is to decide our destiny.”
No one in 1776 knew the outcome of the war or what the future held. The war displaced many, toppled the economy into shambles, and left citizens at the mercy of two armies. On the anniversary of our country’s birthday, remember the sacrifices of loyalists and patriots alike as America took that leap into history.


  1. Congratulations on your blog. Knowledge of our history is so important for all Americans. I hope you have lots of traffic to your site.

  2. Great post for the holiday -- sorry I didn't see it before!