On July 2, 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence and sent it print. Congress did not officially declare Independence and release the document to the public until July 4, 1776. Nonetheless, on July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his beloved wife, Abigail, forecasting that our nation would long celebrate its birth — but he was a bit off on the date:
. . . The Second 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.
Many historians call George Washington the “indispensable man” — the man without whom the Revolution would not have succeeded. Quite true, I think. That said, the Revolution would never been given into Washington’s hands were it not for the efforts of John Adams and his cousin, Sam Adams, between 1761 and July 2, 1776. And as to John Adams in particular, his wife Abigail was his love, his confidant, and his sounding board. Their relationship was heartwarming and fascinating. Having studied John Adams in some detail, I think it fair to say that he would not have been who he was without Abigail at his side.
If you have never seen it, 1776 is a very entertaining musical about the efforts of John Adams (with a nod to Abigail) and his fellow delegates at the Second Continental Congress to draft and pass the Declaration of Independence. It is historically very accurate, though I don’t think John Adams and Ben Franklin every broke out into a duet. Regardless, I recommend it highly and have embedded two songs from the musical below.
Sit Down, John