This Day in History: July 2

by Timothy Lane7/2/16

American independence is celebrated on July 4, but the process involved several other days with important decisions, one of which was arguably more important.

On May 15, 1776, the Virginia House of Burgesses instructed its delegation at the Second Continental Congress to propose an American declaration of independence. On June 7, Richard Henry Lee made that proposal, and it was probably essential that it come from a colony other than Massachusetts.

Congress assigned a committee to write a declaration, even though they hadn’t voted yet for independence. This was written by Thomas Jefferson and submitted to Congress on June 28.

On July 2, Congress finally voted for independence. New York still abstained from voting (they were still awaiting instruction from the colonial legislature), but every other colony voted in favor. John Adams, pleased with the vote, said July 2 should be commemorated in the future “with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to another.” This is why I have chosen to make this entry.

After that, Congress took up Jefferson’s declaration and proceeded to make a number of edits (such as eliminating his anti-slavery clause, which would have invited a charge of hypocrisy)/ This was approved on July 4, and signed by John Hancock. After a fine copy was made, there was a mass signing on (it’s believed; records aren’t reliable) August 2, though many signed later.


Timothy Lane writes from Louisville, Kentucky and publishes the FOSFAX fanzine.
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22 Responses to This Day in History: July 2

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    We need someone to write a Declaration of Trump so that he makes sense. I doubt that anyone can do so. But defining the Revolution is just what Jefferson did.

    As we here all know, revolutions are almost always destructive things that don’t last long. And if they last at all it is usually because of the iron fist of a dictator or ruthless cabal.

    What Jefferson did was ground the America Revolution in principles higher than grievance, hissy fits, or the search for utopia (which, along with other things, marred the French Revolution). No one knows for sure if Trump has even read it. But Jefferson wrote:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    There are no words there about King George having met with Lee Harvey Oswald. These are sober and wise words from a type of leader who is a cut above the douche-bags we generally have today, including Trump.

    That’s not to say the Revolution was a perfectly gentlemanly affair. But it lasted. And it has been said the the American Revolution was the first and only revolution whose goal wasn’t a New Order but to maintain the existing order. It was an inherently conservative revolution.

    Jefferson’s reasoning is splendid. And although they became bitter enemies for a while, John Adams was the rock upon which this country was built (Washington being the sword and a whole lot of other things). He was the keystone that fell into place when England had gone too far. It’s a nasty thing to part ways with a king, especially the king of the most powerful country in the world. But once England had gone too far (at least in the minds of the key players), Adams was there as a spine stiffener. He would allow no one to go all wobbly. Margaret Thatcher probably admired him. And he was a tireless planner and organizer.

    Imagine some douche-bag such as Robespierre instead of the steady, reasonable, bull-headed, sober and, most of all, decent John Adams. This is the guy who went against the grain and defended the British soldiers involved in “The Boston Massacre.” Adams was no fan of a mob. And yet he was not a doormat either.

    The moral and idealogical strength of the leaders (Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin, et al) is not likely to be seen again. Imagine how quickly England could regain her feet after the Brexit vote if she had these leaders or leaders such as Edmund Burke. But mostly England has the same kind of douche-bags that we have today

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, Jefferson did list a series of abuses by the King (and Parliament), but they were specific charges and followed the statement of principles. They noted that their had been a lot of abuses that led them to revolt, gave the principles of their revolt, and then listed the specific abuses to show they weren’t just uttering vague generalities like politicians do today.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I thought the list of grievances was inserted by a committee. Whatever. It is damn good writing by TJ. Funny to see how it all played out. Thomas Paine went cuckoo with the French Revolution, as did Jefferson to a great extent. Both were naive idealists willing to overlook the reality of the horror in France. This is surely why I rate Adams as the more important founder. He was not, by and large, a kool-aid drinker. Of course, Washington is the most important Founder and his lack of mention at times is simply a recognition that no one else comes close in importance.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Against Adams one must place his acceptance, and biased enforcement, of the Sedition Act. In his favor is that he ended the Quasi-War when the Hamilton wing of the Federalists preferred it to continue, thereby placing the national interest above his political ambition.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Oh, baloney, Timothy. I get so tired of hearing about the Sedition Act. There’s no need for conservatives to self-flagelate over that. And let’s not it was an act of Congress not an act of Adams (other than signing it into law).

            This kind of gets old. Imagine every conversation about Washington ending with “But he was a slave owner.” Get over it. 🙂

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, Adams also enforced it, and he could always have vetoed it. (Note that I’m not attacking him over the others of the Alien and Sedition Acts.) I would also note his reaction when it was claimed that Thomas Pinckney had picked up 4 women in Paris to be split between him and Adams: He said that if so, then Pinckney had kept them all and deprived Adams of his pair. One of the first victims of the Sedition Acts was Matthew Lyon, a Vermont Republican Representative.

              But Jefferson wasn’t that much better. He opposed the Sedition Act, let it expire, and pardoned those convicted. But he favored doing much the same thing at the state level; for him, the issue was federalism.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Someone could certainly write an article on the Sedition Act, giving the context of the time, what the act was trying to combat, who favored it, who opposed it, what precedents there were for it, etc.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    On this day my great grandfather and his brother were preparing to make an attack on a strongly held federal position. They were posted directly across from “the angle”. The next day the future of the 42nd Mississippi, the CSA, and republican government in North America would be determined.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      They were posted directly across from “the angle”.

      If memory serves correctly, that was possibly the bloodiest single place in the whole war.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        It was, a few years ago I made the same walk from where the statue of Lee is across the fields. Perhaps it is mere historical insight but it was the closest I have ever felt to feeling ghosts. And, 20,000 men with rifles were not firing at me. In the most eloquent words of Faulkner:
        “For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One reference work I have on Gettysburg looks at the bloodiest spots on the field. The area of Pickett’s charge is on the list, and may even be #1, but several sites of heavy combat on the second day also were high on the list.

          Was 42nd Mississippi in Posey’s brigade or Davis’s? The former never did attack on July 2, but would roughly have been facing the Bloody Angle. Davis attacked as part of Pickett’s Charge, but was well away from the angle. The only other Mississippi brigade, Barksdale’s, attacked further south (close to Sherby’s peach orchard).

          July 2 was probably the single bloodiest day at Gettysburg.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            Davis brigade, the son of Jefferson Davis. The 42nd was heavily involved on the first day with over a hundred KIA and captured at the railroad cut.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I believe Archer’s brigade was next to Davis’s in the charge (as it was in the initial effort July 1), commanded by B. D. Fry after Archer had been captured. Fry was wounded and captured in the charge, and the brigade’s command fell to Colonel Shepard, one of Elizabeth’s ancestors. I once showed her his report on Gettysburg.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Paul Kengor has a relevant article. The gist of it is that on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence — the day that both Adams and Jefferson died — a community organizer named “Robert Owen” read his “Declaration of Mental Independence” to a group of his socialist commune kooks in New Harmony, Indiana.

    The crux of this Obama wannabe’s dogma was, as Kengor noted:

    “I now declare to you and to the world,” proclaimed Owen, “that man up to this hour has been in all parts of the earth a slave to a trinity of the most monstrous evils that could be combined to inflict mental and physical evil upon the whole race.” What were these monstrosities? “I refer to private property, absurd and irrational systems of religion and marriage founded upon individual property,” answered Owen.

    Property, religion, marriage: Robert Owen’s unholy trinity.

    Remember. Jonah Goldberg has caved on homosexual marriage. I’m not picking on Jonah, per se. But the conservative commentariat is rotten for the most part. We’re part of that, so maybe we are too. In a review of a book I will likely never read, author Pete Hegseth makes some quite Kungian points about the need to get involved instead of just chattering from the sidelines. French writes:

    His central point is that a sense of entitlement or grievance is incompatible with the virtues of good citizenship, yet creeping entitlement is taking hold even in America’s more conservative subcultures. Our economy stagnates . . . because of China. Our religious liberty disappears  . . . because of Apple or PayPal. Our personal economic prospects worsen . . . because of immigrants. And while no one argues that external forces are irrelevant to national or personal vitality, Americans still retain an enormous amount of autonomy. Families can still do much to shape their own destinies.

    He never even said the words, “Donald Trump,” but they were floating in the air like a hanging curve ball. And this guy is obviously for unleashing a holocaust on the planet because he urges people to have at least three children, the benefits of which he describes as “a check against self-indulgence.” French writes:

    Hegseth argues that large families (which he defines as those with three or more children) are a check against self-indulgence. Children “humble you, teach you, and keep you grounded.” Hegseth echoes Roosevelt’s condemnation of the “willfully barren” — those who, for the sake of self-actualization, choose not to have children. It’s a counter-cultural message, especially in an era when many progressive ideologues argue that having kids is a form of planet-destroying excess and even decry parents as “breeders”; but that’s exactly why it’s thought-provoking and necessary.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      a community organizer named “Robert Owen” read his “Declaration of Mental Independence” to a group of his socialist commune kooks in New Harmony, Indiana.

      Owen is a big name in the history of socialism and the Left. He is most famous for setting up utopian settlements based on his insane beliefs. Both settlements ended in failure in something like two years. This did not dissuade the nut from pursuing his crazy ideas. New Harmony, one his settlements, is a big name in the annals of the Left.

      From his social experiments sprang other rotten fruit, such as American anarchism. Magical thinking is the gift which keeps giving to the Left. It cannot be argued with because it is magical.

      Owen is another person who should have been smothered in his crib.

      If one does a little study of people like Owens, one will quickly see that the insane ideas of the Left were already formed two hundred years ago. The Left has been working at its project for a long time, while normal people have paid no attention.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that Owen was a man of inherited wealth. He started out in Scotland (I think) running the family business. That’s where he got the money to set up his uotpias. Some things don’t change.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Would anyone here really want to be a part of someone’s utopia project knowing what we know about such efforts? I sure as heck wouldn’t.

        It’s tempting to want to live according to your own rules. It’s so tempting that most people buy a house, erect a fence, and do just that. The closest you can get to utopia is a man’s home which is his castle, of whatever size or location.

        And it’s just as well that you don’t see inside those castles. My brother was a fireman and most of their job isn’t putting out fires but going on aid calls. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the messes that lie behind the manicured lawns and through the front doors. But at least most people have the decency to hide their oddities. And in this way, we can have functioning and happy neighborhoods obeying merely a minimum set of rules (don’t play your music too loud, keep your dog from crapping on my lawn, etc.)

        But in a commune you discover something you never thought you would: people. And people are weird. Their eccentricities, if not their vices, are what four-walls-and-a-picket-fence are made for. Remove those fences and walls and there is little to no chance of living together past a few months, let alone finding utopia. This is also a reason that many offices are divided into cubicles.

        The only chance utopia (or communes, if you will) has of working is in a religious community. Such (Christian) communities are not organized around some abstract idea of perfection (or, more often, some disguised form of hedonism). The expectation is to work hard and bow to an unbending rule. And a rule organized around a worship of God is less likely to be a rule subject to the vagaries of human foibles, passions, and deceit.

        You couldn’t pay me to join a commune, even with the inducement of free sex with dozens of 18 to 24 year old girls. Okay. Maybe you could. But likely I couldn’t stay long there. No pun intended.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          This may explain why there are far fewer non-religious communes than there used to be — and why their residents are likely to be young and inexperienced. They don’t know about New Harmony and Brook Farm. They don’t know that most kibbutzim depend on government subsidies (though this may reflect defense expenses as much as anything). I once heard that someone actually tried to put Skinner’s Walden Two into practice. If they did, I doubt it succeeded either.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think my favorite movie (TV movie, I think) of Utopia-gone-wrong is the 1980 Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. Powers Boothe plays the creepy Jim Jones to perfection…or at least he is convincing as a creepy cult leader. I never knew Jim Jones personally.

            I love the synopsis at IMDB which says “In the 1960s, he began as an idealist helping minorities and working against racism.” But of course. All would-be modern saints are for “social justice.” How can you not love a cult that brought us the term, “Drink the kool-aid”?

            Apparently a note was left on Jim Jones’ body in a sealed envelope that read: “Dad, I see no way out—I agree with your decision—I fear only that without you the world may not make it to communism . . . For my part — I am more than tired of this wretched, merciless, planet and the hell it holds for so many masses of beautiful people — thank you for the ONLY life I’ve known.”

            Sounds like your typical yute who has been to college. And the Left is a Cult. And they do indeed drink a sort of kool-aid.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    This seems to be the best spot available to give my July 4 message, which is hoping everyone has a happy time celebrating American independence however you do it. And a reminder message from Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”:

    And I’m proud to be an American
    Where at least I know I’m free.
    And I won’t forget the men who died
    Who gave that right to me.
    And I’ll gladly stand up next to you
    And defend her still today.
    For there ain’t no doubt I love this land.
    God bless the USA.

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