Friday, July 1, 2016

Declaration of Independance

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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."

These words begin one of the most famous documents in the history of the world; the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united states of America.  They are some of the most recognized words anywhere. On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and on the following day, 12 of the 13 colonies voted for the motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and that is why we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day.  The actual signing of the document took place on August 2nd with some of the delegates signing at an even later date.

Unfortunately, most Americans are not well versed in their history. I love history and am always interested in learning more. It seems that when Americans talk about history, it is only in how it relates to their viewpoints today. There is little study and discussion of history for history's sake.

Maybe it is because our country is such melting pot that so many of us are not well versed in this countries beginnings. My ancestors in this country predate the Declaration of Independence. My great great great great grandfather, James Vowels, fought in the Revolutionary War.

According to a document that I found, James Vowels was a soldier in the Army of the Revolution. James was born in Virginia in 1738. He enlisted in 1776 under Captain George Slaughter of the 8th Virginia Regiment. He fought in the Battles of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, Germantown on October 4, 1777, and several others. He wintered with his regiment at Valley Forge and served out the time of his enlistment faithfully.

When his enlistment was up, he came home to Virginia and married Anne Fields in April 1781. After the wedding, he again joined the Army and was at the siege of Yorktown. When the English General Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781, James returned home to Culpepper County Virginia where he lived until his death on April 17, 1815.

My great great great great grandfather was a part of some of the most important events in American history. He experienced the hardships of Valley Forge. He was part of the Army that forced the English General Cornwallis to surrender and end the war. He helped America gain its independence. He was a true patriot. I’m proud to be a descendant of James Vowels.

Philadelphia held the first celebration of independence on July 4, 1777, and in 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday. After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to celebrate Independence Day every year, in events that allowed the new nation to create a feeling of unity. The tradition of Independence Day celebrations became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday.

This weekend as we barbecue, picnic, go to the lake, shoot off fireworks, or whatever we do to celebrate the day, let's take time to remember the bravery of the men who risked their lives in a time of war to boldly sign the Declaration of Independence.

Happy 4th of July!

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