People look at me strangely when I wish them a Happy Independence Day on July 2. John Adams, 230 years ago, was certain that this date would be remembered for the birth of American independence. Instead, because the Declaration of Independence happens to have the date that it was passed actually written on it: July 4, 1776, that’s the one that got remembered. Well, it’s not the first time a politician turned out to be a lousy prognosticator. It’s hard not to wonder what the country’s founders would think of the country we’ve made.
In July, 1776, the newly hatched United States was mired in a guerrilla war whose ground war would last some six years. Over two
centuries later, we’re still stuck in a guerilla war…though the righteousness of the cause seems a little more nebulous. Back then, there was constant in-fighting between the interests of business and those who had loftier ideals. Back then, those embracing the enlightenment held sway…at least enough to get a country started and on its feet enough to survive a second war of independence (a/k/a the War of 1812). I wonder what the Constitution would look like today if the interests of the drafters were more in tune with modern business leaders. (Then again, the founders did permit slavery for an additional ninety years, so paragons of perfect morality they weren’t.)
Though even more suppositions can be made, I’d like to think that when Americans once more gather together in celebration (on July 4th) to have picnics, listen to concerts, and watch fireworks; that Messrs. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Rodney, Hancock, Wilson, et al. could look on those faces oooing and ahhing at the pyrotechnics and smile to themselves. What they did was right. The result: maybe not quite what they were expecting; but all-in-all, they were right.
To all of those men who fought in the fields of America, and in what would become known as Independence Hall…I thank you. Happy 230th, America!