July 4th, 1800
Hi, I'm Spangle. I'm a stuffed bear that is owned by a little boy in the very young United States of America. The American citizens have an amazing story to tell about the 13 original colonies becoming the U. S. of A.! This is our story . . .
In the middle of the 1700's, 13 colonies had been set up by the British in the New World. The 13 original colonies were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Although life was going well, the citizens were beginning to find it hard to be ruled by a king that was sitting
on his throne 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. The colonists were tired of having taxes shoved in their faces, and they decided to set out for liberty. But the road to a new nation was a tough one.
Two events hurried their destiny; The Boston Tea Party and the Massacre. In 1767 a British owned Tea Company in India began to lose money. Trying to save the company, British levied a tax on the tea sold in the colonies. Partly from anger about the taxes, and partly as a joke, Samuel Adams and other Bostonians dressed up as Indians. They ran aboard the India Company Tea (the ship the tea came on) and dumped her cargo into the Massachusetts Bay. (I later talked to Aruba and Lips, a couple of fish swimming nearby. They said all of the undersea creatures had a glorious party, but they wished Samuel had thrown a few little cakes and a couple of sugar lumps over the side of the ship too.) King George III saw this act as anything but a joke and did not lift the tax law.
The "massacre" happened in the Boston Harbor. British Soldiers were jeered and stoned because the colonists thought they were spying. The soldiers fired into the crowd and killed a few citizens. In outrage, the people exaggerated the mortalities, and called it a massacre.
Virginia came one step closer to independence when a committee was put together to represent the colonies. The committee drew up a list of grievances against the British Crown, and that list became the first draft of a document that would formally separate the colonies from England. George Washington, who took command of the Continental Army, began fighting the British in Massachusetts. For the next few years, colonists fought fervently in the Revolutionary War.
While this was happening, a war of words was being waged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Second Continental Congress presented and debated a second draft of the list of grievances on July 2, 1776. John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, was the first to sign. (This has nothing to do with becoming independent, but John Hancock also had the largest signature. That is why today, some people say "put your John Hancock here," when they want someone to sign something!) The document was named The Declaration of Independence, and was treasonous against the crown. The 56 men who signed it were in great danger of being executed.
Independence Day is celebrated on the Fourth of July because that is the day when the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. From July 8, 1776, through the next month, the document was read publicly, and whenever it was heard, people rejoiced. A year later in Philadelphia July Fourth was greeted with ringing bells, fired guns and lighted firecrackers and candles. But the War of Independence dragged on until 1783, and in that year, Independence Day was declared an official holiday.
John Adams, the first Vice President and the second President of the United States wrote this to his wife:
"I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... it ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..."
Who knows, maybe John will be right. All that we know now is that the 13 colonies are now part of the United States of America. We hope that the U.S. will grow. But whether the Fourth is celebrated or not, we, as Americans, will be free.
P.S. I just wanted to show you the complete Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key, during the war.
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
Thank you to David Vogel who wrote this story for aboutBeanies.com!
Click here to visit David's website CyberBeanie!