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July 2017 — Celebrate America’s Independence With a Trip Back to 1776

A lot was happening in the Colonies during the summer of 1776. On July 2nd, the legal separation of the 13 Colonies from Great Britain occurred when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence — declared by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.

Congress then turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining the decision. The document had been prepared by a Committee of Five; thirty-three year old Thomas Jefferson was the lead author. The Continental Congress debated, revised the wording, and ratified it July 4th.

John Adams — an American patriot who would go on to serve as the second president of the United States (1797–1801) — wrote to his wife, Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

For Founding Father Patrick Henry, July 4 was also an important day, explains historian and Colonial reenactor Ray Baird, who is based in Richmond, VA.

“On the evening of July 4, we can imagine that Patrick Henry was celebrating with his friends and family, for on the next day he will be sworn in as the first governor of a free, independent — and newly armed — Virginia,” Baird says.

Baird continues: “Little did Mr. Henry know that he would serve three consecutive one-year terms. In fact, for his famous ‘Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death’ speech, and the many other fiery speeches that he gave in his career, he came to be known as the voice of the American Revolution.”

What was it like to live during this exciting time in American history?

Scroll down for a fascinating history lesson by Baird, who shares the impassioned monologue he gives weekly to visitors at historic St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA — the site of Henry’s infamous speech. And be sure to watch our interview with Ray Baird on 

Here’s to restoring enthusiasm in American history for kids, and adults! — David Bruce Smith, founder, and Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, /

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