On a pleasant, cool day, July 4th, without much fanfare the Continental Congress again meeting behind closed doors voted on the wording of “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America." This document, mainly written by Thomas Jefferson, set forth the reasons that impelled the colonies to separate. The case for this action was that the equality of men gave them certain unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Twenty-seven abuses of these rights by Great Britain were enumerated. Among the abuses specified were the “quartering of large bodies of armed troops” and “imposing taxes without consent.” John Hancock signed the document.
The first authorized printing of the Declaration of Independence appeared in Philadelphia on July 6. As the document reached the colonies there was ringing of bells and bonfires and other celebrations. While the Congress was now charting the course for a new country and its war with Great Britain, the delegates signed the document on August 6.
In Harrisonburg, July 4, 2011, a ten-year tradition of celebration will include a parade, food booths, family-fun activities, and, of course, fireworks. The celebration begins at noon in front of the Court House with the reading of the Declaration of Independence and ends with nighttime fireworks.
*The New York Delegation abstained on this vote. Several delegates who opposed separation absented themselves during the voting so their colony would vote in favor of the action.
David McCullough. John Adams. Simon and Schuster. 2001.
1776. Simon and Schuster. 2005.