Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Do you really know? America is great! Understand why!

BRADENTON— Throughout our childhood, teachers commonly associate Independence Day with a variety of images and connotations of freedom. The event is all very sensationalized with fireworks, parades, and occurrences celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. But how many Americans can say they actually know the true meaning behind Independence? This week, I decided to conduct a quiz to see just how many people can distinguish the myths from the reality.

1. Was independence declared on the 4th of July?
2. What day did the founders predict would be celebrated as the “most memorable epoch in the history of America?”
3. When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
4. Could the Liberty Bell’s brassy ring be heard throughout the streets of Philadelphian on July 4, 1776?
5. Who made the first American Flag?
6. What memorable event happened on July 4, 1826?
7. Was the Star Spangled Banner written during he Revolutionary War and when was it officially made the national anthem?


Many historians believe that this famous scene by painter John Trumbull that hangs in the Capitol of United States with a grand depiction of all the delegates gathered round to sign the declaration in front of a crowd of spectators never actually happened.
1. America’s independence was actually declared by congress on July 2, 1776. That night the Pennsylvania Evening Post published an article with the statement “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”

The Declaration of Independence was adopted two days later it was a congressional statement that John Adams described as "dress and ornament rather than Body, Soul, or Substance," a way of announcing American independence, to the world.

So by holding Independence Day on the fourth, we are actually celebrating not just independence but the Declaration of Independence. And the declaration we celebrate, what Abraham Lincoln called "the charter of our liberties," a document whose meaning and function today are different from what they were in 1776. In short, during the nineteenth century the Declaration of Independence became not just a way of announcing and justifying the end of Britain's power over the Thirteen Colonies, but a statement of principles to guide stable, established governments.

2. The founders of course had a different prediction of the date when Americans would commemorate their independence. That date of course was July 2, 1776, the day when the U.S. actually declared independence. In a letter to his wife dated July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote:

“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."

Well, at least he foresaw all the grand festivities that Americans would partake in, if not the exact date.

It is widely acknowledged that Betsy Ross sewed/designed the first flag, but records indicate that the legend is nothing but a bedtime story told by a grandmother to her grandson.

3.) Although Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both claim to have signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, many historians have reason to believe otherwise. In his biography of John Adams, author David McCullough claims the famous scene by painter John Trumbull that hangs in the Capitol of United States with a grand depiction of all the delegates gathered round to sign the declaration in front of a crowd of spectators never actually happened.

The actual document was signed on August 2, 1776 when Timothy Matack, assistant to the secretary of congress, finally produced a clean copy. Historian Mellon Chamberlain found the truth in 1884 when he reviewed the minutes of the meeting.

4.) The answer is no. Supposedly a “chime that changed the world” rang through the streets on July 8, 1776, from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. It is true that the first Independence celebration in Philadelphia wasn’t until July 8, however, according to the George Mason University’s history news network, the bell never actually played a role in the celebration.

The organization has reviewed numerous texts and has never found evidence of the celebration. They claim the story came from a 19th century children’s book by George Lippard titled Legends of American Revolution. They also claim the bell “was not even named in honor of American independence” but rather as a signature of nineteenth-century abolitionist who used it as a symbol of anti-slavery.

5.) Betsy Ross probably did not sew the first flag. Although her house is on the “independence tour” and supposedly located a few blocks away from the liberty bell, there is no actual evidence that she even lived there. Her bones were even dug up after 150 years of “resting in peace” so they could be located on the grounds of a house she never lived in.

So who sewed the first flag? Well, no one actually knows, but it was designed by Frances Hopkinson who sent a bill to the Board of Admiralty for “designing the flag of the United States” in May of 1780.

So where did the story come from? Betsy Ross' story was published in 1870, 34 years after her death, by her only surviving grandson, William J. Canby, in a paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The paper included stories he had heard from his grandmother (Betsy Ross) and other family members throughout the years. Canby was 11 years old when his grandmother died, but the stories were kept in his family as an oral tradition.

Historians believe the liberty bell never actually played a part in the country's independence.

6.) On July 4, 1826 both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence a truly eerie coincidence. Rumor has it that John Adams uttered the words “Jefferson survives,” on his deathbed; this of course, has never been proven.

7.)The lyrics in "The Star-Spangled Banner" are from "Defense of Fort McHenry” a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay in the War of 1812, not the American Revolution.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith. "The Anacreontic Song" was already well known in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it would became even more popular as American patriotic song.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the U.S. Navy in 1889 and the president in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 and signed by President Herbert Hoover.