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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
So wrote John Adams to his wife, Abigail, in a letter penned on July 3, 1776. The day before, the Second Continental Congress had adopted Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence and the committee appointed to draft a declaration of the Congress’s reasons (of which Adams was a member) was completing its work.
Adams was altogether prescient in describing how we celebrate American Independence. He merely erred in assuming that the date the resolution for independence was adopted, rather than the date appearing on the Declaration of Independence itself, would be the date commemorated by future generations of Americans.
We’ll celebrate the Fourth on the Fourth, of course, but, in an uncharacteristic instance of deference to a president with the surname "Adams," I’ll go ahead and begin the festivities a little early.
This one’s for you, John. Happy Independence Day!