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Forth of July Myths

Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Forth of July Myths |

July 4th Myths Debunked

There are many myths surrounding July 4th that we Americans consider fact. Brian Handwerk wrote an excellent article for National Geographic regarding these myths. Here’s the link if you’re interested in reading more. Below are excerpts taken directly from Handwerk’s article regarding five of these myths. He has several others in his article and I encourage you to follow the link to find out more.

1. The first biggest myth is that The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th.
Independence Day is celebrated two days too late. The Second Continental Congress voted for a Declaration of Independence on July 2, prompting John Adams to write his wife, “I am apt to believe that [July 2, 1776], will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”

Adams correctly foresaw shows, games, sports, buns, bells, and bonfires—but he got the date wrong. The written document wasn’t edited and approved until the Fourth of July, and that was the date printers affixed to “broadside” announcements sent out across the land. July 2 was soon forgotten.

In fact, no one actually signed the Declaration of Independence at any time during July 1776. Signing began on August 2, with John Hancock’s famously bold scribble, and wasn’t completed until late November.”

2. Paul Revere Rode Solo
Patriot Paul Revere really did hit the road on the night of April 18, 1775, to alert the countryside that British troops were on the move. But the image of an inspired, lone rider isn’t accurate. Revere was part of a low-tech—but highly effective—early-warning system. But Revere was actually captured by the British.

3. July 4, 1776, Party Cracked the Liberty Bell
U.S. independence surely prompted a party, but joyful patriots didn’t ring the Liberty Bell until it cracked on July 4, 1776. In fact the State House Bell likely didn’t ring at all that day. Due to poor casting of the bell, it was cracked and recast several times. The crack that is in it now wasn’t done until sometime in the 1800’s.

4. Betsy Ross Made the First American Flag
There is no proof that Betsy Ross played any part in designing or sewing the American flag that made its debut in 1777. In fact, the story of the famous seamstress didn’t circulate until it was raised by her grandson nearly a century after the fact, and the only evidence is testimony to this family tradition.

5. Patriots Flocked to Fight for Freedom
This enduring image is accurate—when describing the beginning of the Revolutionary War. But as it became clear that the struggle for independence would be long and difficult, the enthusiasm of many American men for fighting began to wane, while their concerns for the well-being of their farms and other livelihoods grew. The government resorted to cash incentives and eventually drafting soliders, to rally an army.

So this weekend while you’re out barbequing, drinking beer, shooting off fireworks, and feeling patriotic, remember that not everything we think about the Forth of July is true. Regardless, America is still the freest nation on the Earth…or is that becoming a myth too?

(BTW, this is my 150th post. Thank you for reading.)

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