This Wednesday, Americans will flock to barbecues and fireworks shows to celebrate one of our most cherished national holidays. On July 4th, 1776, delegates from all 13 original colonies proclaimed together, that America would no longer serve as a territory of England, but instead would stand as its own independent nation. As one of America’s oldest cities, Albany and the Capital District played a proud role, in the founding of our country.
Though the first battle of what would come to be the American Revolution was fought in April, 1775, few colonists at the time supported complete independence from England. Most were frustrated with their lack of representation in parliament, and were really just fighting to have their voices heard. The few that favored America becoming its own independent nation were considered a radical minority.
Over the next year however, favor for colonial independence was fostered by revolutionary ideas and literature, like Thomas Paine’s best selling pamphlet “Common Sense”.
At the June 7th meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the colonists agreed to draft a formal declaration of their intent to leave the United Kingdom. The congress selected five members to compose the proposal, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert R Livingston of New York. On July 4th, 1776, representatives from all 13 colonies were sent to sign the document, though when Livingston himself could not attend the signing, he sent his cousin instead; Philip Livingston, from Albany.
Though the anniversary of the signing was celebrated as early as 1778, with General George Washington providing his men double rations of rum to mark the occasion, it would not become a federal holiday until 1941. At present, the 4th of July stands as a cherished and beloved celebration of the American spirit.