Happy Independence Day, everyone!
For citizens of the United States, July 4th is a major holiday. And while most people agree upon the singular historic event in American history that it commemorates, celebrations are conducted in diverse ways.
For many, the focus is gathering with friends and family for backyard barbeques and picnics adorned with patriotic red, white, and blue colors, and celebrated with tasty foods, including potato salad, corn on the cob, coleslaw, fruit salads, and of course, a variety of grilled meats (hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, steak, pork ribs, chicken, etc.). And let’s not forget the array of cold beverages ranging from lemonade, to colas, to iced tea, and to innumerous varieties of alcoholic selections. Make no mistake; Americans have always valued food and drink as a centerpiece for any holiday, let alone July 4th.
Some people choose to pack up their vehicles and trailers, hitch up their campers, boats, or jet skis, and head out to lakes, beaches, and camping grounds for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For others, they seek social gatherings in neighborhoods and churches for reflections on their freedom of worship, though also accompanied by those previously-mentioned arrays of foods.
However, for some, this holiday is celebrated by stimulating the economy with shopping trips and bargain hunting at retail stores, shopping centers, and bargain outlets. But this is where matters become controversial, because purists accuse those shoppers of missing the point of the holiday; namely, celebrating the British colonists’ historic vote to be independent citizens from England and kicking off a war for the ages to gain their freedom and autonomy. Yet, those purists, while admirably passionate regarding their national pride, are overlooking some historic precedence for the shopper’s perspective.
It’s important to remember that the American colonists weren’t simply interested in political autonomy from Great Britain, but also economic independence. Leading up to the military engagements of the American Revolution, there were economic boycotts of British merchants and goods by the colonists in retaliation for what were viewed as excessive and unjust taxes and tariffs or economic controls levied against the British colonies by Parliament. Such Acts included the Sugar Act of 1764, Currency Act of 1764, Stamp Act of 1765, and eventually the Coercive Acts of 1774 (aka “The Intolerable Acts”) stemming from the events of the Boston Tea Party in December 1773. The resulting boycotts of British goods and textiles were conducted by colonial merchants with the support and assistance of colonial citizens and special interest groups, particularly women’s groups, throughout the colonies. Understand that, during the 1760s and 1770s, American colonists purchased approximately 40% of England’s manufactures. Any large-scale boycott of Britain’s merchants made a significant impact on England’s economy and royal treasury.
This being said, it’s perfectly legitimate for Americans to celebrate July 4th with a celebration of their economic independence via some shopping and retail therapy …just so long as their day also includes tasty foods, and eventually, a respectable array of desserts. In Twitter-talk, that’s #July4th #Shopping #FoodandDesserts
During the American Civil War (1861-1864), July 4th was made infamous throughout the Confederacy (i.e. the South) by the Battle of Vicksburg and the subsequent surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi under Confederate General John C. Pemberton and his 31,000 Confederate troops to the Union army led by General Ulysses S. Grant. So emotional was the South over this historic event that the town of Vicksburg did NOT celebrate or officially observe the July 4th Independence Day again for 81 years until 1944! As one can see, American passions run deep regarding July 4th for a variety of reasons, not all of them stemming from the observation of the Declaration of Independence.
Oh, and while the Declaration of Independence is celebrated on July 4th, few realize that it was actually voted upon on July 2, 1776…and only 12 of the thirteen colonies voted for it. New York’s delegation had to abstain because they were instructed not to support the document. Then, the actual document was not officially signed by Continental Congressmen until August 2, 1776. But I digress…
That’s all for now from the history nerd, but stay tuned for future blog posts on historical facts and events.
Until later, enjoy life; be kind to those around you, and Happy Independence Day! Peace.