Happy birthday, USA!

So, the “birthday” of the good ole U.S. of A., that ole gray mare that just doesn’t bark like she used’ta, that entity that’s trumped even Rome…even the United Knigdom…even the Middle Kingdom (for now, anyway! :-0)…yes, the “day” (or day(tes) of “birth”of these, this, them, those, our onlyest ones and ownslies United States of America breaks down like this:

April 12, 1776 — in Halifax, Province of North Carolina, clever lawyers among that colony’s governing committee draft the “Halifax Resolves” as part of their new rules governing the conduct of their delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress that year up in Philadelphia. The Resolves gave the NC delegates the authority that no one in the Continental Congress had yet had to join with their fellow delegates to declare independence from Great Britain’s Empire.

May 15, 1776 — in Williamsburg, Virginia, the local provisional governing body (necessitated by the Royal Governor’s ominous dissolving of the 150-year-old Virginia House of Burgesses in 1774) issued official instructions to its delegates to the Continental Congress to start the ball rolling and propose independence from the Empire for the 13 colonies.

June 7, 1776 — in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Richard Henry Lee, delegate from Virginia, per his operating instructions, makes the proposition for independence to the 2nd Continental Congress.

June 11, 1776 — a motion is passed creating a committee to write up the reasons for the move for independence. Much politicking takes place in Philadelphia and probably via horseback up and down stretches of what’s now the I-95 from NYC to Virginia.

July 2, 1776 — in Philadelphia, the 2nd Continental Congress tallied a unanimous vote of 12 of the colonies (New York’s delegates were not yet authorized to declare the colony independent of Great Britain, and so abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to be approved) approving delegate Lee’s resolution, thus, thereby, forthwith, evermore and just like that declaring and making in fact the united states such as they were, of America a nation of its own. This, a Tuesday, was the day the USA was born. (Massachusetts delegate John Adams was certain for a time that July 2nd would henceforth be massively revered and celebrated for generations.)

July 4, 1776 — Congress votes on and approves the document drafted by the committee (primarily by Virginia delegate Thomas Jefferson) created on June 11 announcing this new independence. It is signed and endorsed by only the President of Congress, John Hancock of the Massachusetts delegation, and the secretary, Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia.

July 8, 1776 — in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence is officially read aloud publicly for the first time in the town square in front of the State House where Congress met.

July 9, 1776 — General George Washington has the Declaration read to his troops in New York City. As well, a German translation is published in Philadelphia (perfectly analogous to a Spanish or Chinese translation being published if it were happening in California, today).

July 20-August 1, 1776 — a fancy-schmancy permanent version of the Declaration is printed again on parchment

August 2, 1776 — the document is formally endorsed by the 2nd Continental Congress with each delegate signing his name to it (a few adding their signatures later.)

Fascinating, no? History is always more muddy and complex than it appears — or is shown to us — at first.


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