By David Barton, The National Day of Prayer.
On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days afterwards – July 4th – the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed, albeit by only two individuals at that time: John Hancock, President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress. Four days later, on July 8, members of Congress took that document and read it aloud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, after which the Liberty Bell was rung. The inscription around the top of that bell, Leviticus 25:10, was most appropriate for the occasion: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”
To see the turmoil in other nations, their struggles and multiple revolutions, and yet to see the stability and blessings that we have here in America, we may ask how has this been achieved? What was the basis of American Independence? John Adams said “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.” Perhaps the clearest identification of the spirit of the American Revolution was given by John Adams in a letter to Abigail the day after Congress approved the Declaration. He wrote her two letters on that day; the first was short and concise, jubilant that the Declaration had been approved. The second was much longer and more pensive, giving serious consideration to what had been done that day. Adams cautiously noted: “This day will be the most memorable epic in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”
It is amazing that on the very day they approved the Declaration, Adams was already foreseeing that their actions would be celebrated by future generations. Adams contemplated whether it would be proper to hold such celebrations, but then concluded that the day should be commemorated – but in a particular manner and with a specific spirit. As he told Abigail: “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
John Adams believed that the Fourth of July should become a religious holiday – a day when we remembered God’s hand in deliverance and a day of religious activities when we committed ourselves to Him in “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”