John Adams’ Letter to Wife Abigail

July 3, 1776

The [fourth]1 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.


1 NOTE: “fourth” is placed in brackets (and, hence, flagged as added) due to the following historical circumstances: The Continental Congress finally achieved a unanimous vote of all the delegates authorizing independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. As a result, John Adams wrote his wife identifying that day as the day that would be remembered and commemorated. However, Congress still had to draft a formal/official document announcing their decision—a process which took two days to finalize. Congress approved the actual Declaration of Independence on July 4—as indicated at the top of the official Declaration document. Despite these historical technicalities, the day that has gone down in American history as the day of independence celebrated by the nation is July 4. Since Adams’ remarks to his wife were intended to refer to the separation from England, for all practical purposes, his words aptly describe what takes place every July 4th across America.


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