July 5, 2013 – Will the real United States Birthday Please Stand Up? – – Most people believe that July 4, 2012 was the United States 238th birthday, but was it really?
The birthday of the USA is celebrated on July 4th, but in fact the crucial vote for independence was taken on July 2nd. It is important to understand exactly what was agreed to on July 4th, namely the wording of the Declaration of independence of the thirteen colonies. Once the Declaration was agreed to, it was signed by John Hancock, President of the Congress. Nowhere in the original Journals of Congress for July 4th is there any reference to any signing of the Declaration of independence by delegates, other than its authentication by Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson. The reproduction of a printed copy of the final signed version with all the delegates’ signatures in the published version of the Journals is a misleading addition. The statement that “The foregoing declaration was by order of Congress, engrossed, and signed by the following members” is also a misleading addition to the original record.
From July 4th, the thirteen colonies regarded themselves as thirteen independent states, linked through the single institution of the Continental Congress. However, in their own legal terms, in July 1776, each colony declared itself an independent sovereign republic. From an international standpoint, full sovereignty was obtained in 1789 when the federal constitution came into effect.
The independence of the thirteen colonies was proclaimed when the Declaration of Independence was read out in Tate House Square in Philadelphia at noon on July 8, 1776. The first attempt at co-operative government between the States was contained in the first constitution, the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union,” which was submitted for debate on July 12, 1776, just four days after the proclamation of independence, adopted on November 15, 1777 and ratified and implement on March 1, 1781 in Philadelphia.
De facto independence was achieved by the surrender of the British at Yorktown on October 17, 1781. Full legal independence was attained by the preliminary Treaty of Paris on November 30, 1782; which became complete on September 3, 1783. The first eight states to ratify the federal constitution were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and South Carolina; between December 7, 1787 through June 21, 1788. When New Hampshire ratified, the constitution was “Placed into operation.” On July 2, 1788; the Congress of Confederation accepted the new constitution and on September 13, 1788 it arranged for the new federal government to begin on March 4, 1788. By then Virginia, New York and North Carolina had ratified the document. These three States did so between June 25, 1788 and August 2, 1788. Rhode Island finally ratified the Constitution on May 29, 1790; and the Union of the “Thirteen Colonies,” known as the United States, was “born.”
The whole process became complete with the swearing-in of the first President, George Washington on April 30, 1789 in New York; the USA capital at the time. This moment represents the final act in the creation of the United States of America out of the thirteen rebellious English colonies.
Washington D.C., the current capital, was not started until March 15, 1791. Congress first met in the Capitol building on November 17, 1800.
However, we will always celebrate our “Independence Day” on July 4th. Happy birthday America, at 238 years old you’re still looking good. (Note: Published Mar-29-2013).
The Master of Disaster