July 2, 1776

That’s the date that the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. As John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail:

…The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not.–I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.–Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

The Book of Abigail and John, Ed. by L.H. Butterfield, p. 142.

Adams got the date of the celebration wrong–we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence instead–but he didn’t miss on much else. The cost in “Toil and Blood and Treasure” may be ongoing, but “the End is more than worth all the Means” indeed. So, in his honor, a little holiday preview: