For over 240 years, Americans have celebrated Independence Day with barbecues, picnics, parades, and some impressive fireworks. All those explosions, which usually send Fido scurrying for safety under the bed, replicate the reaction of our country’s first troops who, upon hearing the Declaration of Independence, repeatedly fired their cannons and guns in celebration.
By 1776, soldiers of the thirteen colonies had already skirmished numerous times with King George III’s red-coated troops. The problems with the king were numerous, but the primary irritant to the colonists was simple: they were subject to taxation without representation. The Crown taxed their goods, often egregiously, but the colonies had no representatives in the English Parliament. King George viewed the colonies as a cash cow and enforced his edicts with bloody resolve. The colonists were tired of it, and even though it was rebellious to the Crown, the colonists formed the Continental Congress with the purpose of expediting separation from England.
In June and July of 1776, the Congress met in Philadelphia and eventually adopted the Lee Resolution, which called for separation from England and the formation of a new, independent government. A formal declaration was needed, and Thomas Jefferson, well known as the most eloquent writer among the group, was chosen to write the Declaration. Jefferson quickly presented his work to the Congress, and after a few revisions, the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed on July 4th by most of the representatives. For the colonies, the document was not just a declaration of independence, but also a signal to prepare for open war with England. Were Continental troops ready?
In 1776, there was no telegraph. Railroads were still decades away. The best long distance communication was by boat or a series of fast horses. In Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence was read to the public within a couple of days. Citizens celebrated with bell ringing and marching bands. Wilderness towns reacted similarly upon arrival of the news a day or two later. But with the slowness of communication, it took over a month for a copy of the Declaration to finally reach South Carolina.
Despite the lateness of its arrival, soldiers in colonial military camps received the Declaration with joy. They commenced formal celebration with a public reading of the document. Cannons, arrayed in formation, fired volleys over the land, their deep booms echoing through surrounding towns and villages, simulating the sound of coming battles. Individual troops happily fired muskets and rifles into the air. The spectacular display of firepower left no doubt that the troops, now soldiers of a united Continental Army, were ready to take on King George and his Redcoats in the fight for independence.
Now, 241 years after the signing of Declaration of Independence, as evening rolls around, the big show starts. Colorful bursts of light fill the sky. This spectacle, a tradition started by eager Continental soldiers, reminds us that our soldiers and sailors are ready to go into battle, at any time, to keep the United States of America a free and independent nation.
Transhield is proud to support and partner with our military forces. To them, we say thank you for your business, and above all, thank you for your service.
Transhield wishes everyone a safe and joyous Fourth of July!