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June 17, 2024 47 mins

Memory Lane Mondays: Does America really need two freedom holidays? To find the answer, we tell the story of the Declaration of Independence…and how the document’s rise to prominence settles the debate on the need for two holidays celebrating freedom.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
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(00:46):
or it goes away. Thanks everyone.

Speaker 2 (00:55):
Fourth of July has long been a day of national pride.
It's when we celebrate America, but in recent years the
legitimacy of the celebration has come under attack. Many believe
we need two separate holidays to truly recognize American freedom.

Speaker 3 (01:12):
What do you say, miss Openley to those who question
why Juneteenth even needs to be a federal holiday when
this country already has July.

Speaker 4 (01:18):
For it, they need to be aware that Juneteenth means freedom.

Speaker 3 (01:22):
We were celebrating fourth of July, which was freedom of America,
when freedom of American people didn't happen until Juneteenth. So
in some ways the celebration feels more authentic on Juneteenth.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
With the media pushing Juneteenth, it raises a question, does
America really need two independence holidays.

Speaker 1 (01:42):
I'm Patrick Currelci and I'm Adrianna Cortez.

Speaker 2 (01:45):
And this is Red Pilled America, a storytelling show.

Speaker 1 (01:49):
This is not another talk show covering the day's news.
We are all about telling stories.

Speaker 2 (01:55):
Stories Hollywood doesn't want you to hear stories.

Speaker 1 (01:58):
The media marks everyday Americans if the globalist ignore.

Speaker 2 (02:03):
You could think of Red Pilled America as audio documentaries.
And we've promised only one thing, the truth. Welcome to
Red Pilled America.

Speaker 1 (02:24):
Sometimes when we work on a story, it takes us
down unexpected staircases where we can't see too far ahead.
When that happens, we can't help but open every door
along the way to get to the truth. This was
one of those times. So for this episode, we thought
we'd do something a little different. We're going to tell
this story in a way that allows you to follow

(02:46):
us down the rabbit hole a bit unfiltered and show
you some of the dead ends along the way that
eventually opened to a whole new understanding of the world.
So does America really need two freedom Holidays? To find
the end?

Speaker 3 (03:00):
Sir?

Speaker 1 (03:00):
We tell the story of the Declaration of Independence and
how the document's rise to prominence settles the debate on
the need for two freedom Holidays.

Speaker 2 (03:15):
When I thought about doing a story about Independence Day,
the first thing that came to mind was fireworks, and
more specifically, when did they become associated with this national celebration.
So I did a little digging and found an expert
on fireworks, Steve Hauser, president of the National Fireworks Association,

(03:37):
the largest fireworks trade association in the United States. Before
I interviewed Steve, I did a little research on the
industry and learned that almost all of us consumer fireworks,
the same things that we use to celebrate America's birthday,
come from outside of the country. I asked Steve about
that maybe there was a story in there somewhere.

Speaker 5 (03:57):
I import everything from it. I mean, that's where virtually
all the fireworks come from. That's where they were found.
Of the invented, you know, back in the I think
it was somewhere around two hundred BC is when they
had the first documented firework. You know, a lot of
the immigrants over the years that came out of Europe, Italians.

(04:18):
They were probably the primary immigrant group that brought fireworks
to America, and they owned a lot of fireworks factories.
At this point in America, all those factories were closed.
But the reason primarily that fireworks aren't made in America
right now. I mean, it's simple economics.

Speaker 2 (04:41):
As I listened to Steve Hauser talk, I thought this
could be an interesting American manufacturing story.

Speaker 5 (04:47):
I'd love to see it made in America. I mean,
our whole industry is founded upon America. First, God Bless America,
you know Independence Day. I mean, we are as patriotic
of an industry is I think you'll ever see. But
the fact of the matter is is that to a point,
you know, if we were to manufacture the fireworks here,

(05:09):
I don't think fireworks would be part of the Fourth
of July celebrations because if you think they're expensive now.
I'd shudder to think what they'd probably be if we
actually was to try to manufacture up here. I just
couldn't imagine the actual cost.

Speaker 2 (05:21):
This was all interesting stuff to me. We love a
good story about how to repatriate an American product that's
been off short. But before I started digging down into
that aspect, I asked Eve the question I'd originally had
on this topic. And that's when he said something I
had never heard before. How did fireworks get, you know,
kind of become connected to the fourth of July celebrations?

(05:42):
Do you know anything about that?

Speaker 5 (05:43):
Yeah? Actually that was one of our founding fathers, John Adams.
It was on the anniversary of Independence date, which at
that point was effectively the second of July. If you
go all the way back to the founding of the
United States, it was the second of July.

Speaker 2 (06:03):
Steve Hauser went on to explain the firework Independence Day connection,
but I couldn't get past his opener, July second, Then
why do we celebrate Independence Day on the fourth of July?
When Steve paused, I couldn't help but ask that question.
You say, July second? So was the Independence Day initially
July second, that's what.

Speaker 5 (06:24):
They had envisioned Independence Day would actually be. That was
when the country effectively got their independence. So the fourth,
I'm not really sure how it moved from the second
to the fourth, but yeah, if you go all the

(06:45):
way back, clear back into those you know times, it
was the day has passed the second day of July
seventeen seventy six and moved it to the fourth at
some point. I'm not exactly sure when it happened.

Speaker 6 (06:57):
Interesting, I didn't know that guy. I'm gonna have to
dig into that. That's that's pretty interesting.

Speaker 2 (07:08):
And that's when our journey took a completely unexpected turn.
Is the entire country celebrating American freedom on the wrong day?
I mean, it appeared to be coming from someone that
would know, because Steve mentioned John Adams being the authority
on the subject. John Adams was one of America's foremost
founding fathers, the first VP of the United States and

(07:29):
the country's second president. I had to dig into this,
and what I found made a surprising impact on my
feelings about June teenth.

Speaker 1 (07:40):
It was May tenth, seventeen seventy five, when delegates from
the thirteen colonies convened in Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress.
Tensions between the colonies and King George the Third of
Great Britain had been brewing for years. American colonists had
long believed they were being overtaxed. After a costly seven
years war with grants that ended in seventeen sixty three,

(08:02):
Great Britain was broke, so to pay off its debts,
it turned to America. In seventeen sixty five, Great Britain
started imposing a series of acts designed to extract revenue
from the thirteen colonies. The Sugar Act, the Stamp Act,
the Townsend Acts, all taxes that imposed new financial burdens
on the colonists, who claimed the Crown was imposing taxation

(08:24):
without representation. Anger amongst the colonists exploded in seventeen seventy
when British soldiers opened fire on an unruly group of
Bostonians that were frustrated about British soldiers occupying their streets.
The event became known as the Boston Massacre. The crisis

(08:45):
escalated in seventeen seventy three after a group of colonists
dumped British tea into the Boston Harbor to protest a
new tax on tea. In response, King George the Third
increased his military presence in Boston, shutting off the city's harbor,
and until the rebel colonists agreed to pay for the
tea they destroyed. By seventeen seventy five, the Massachusetts Colony

(09:07):
was an open rebellion against the mother country, and the
King now had a real problem on his hands.

Speaker 7 (09:13):
He thought that the welfare of Great Britain turned on
its continuing to hold its American colonies.

Speaker 1 (09:18):
That's the late Pauline Mayer, a historian and author of
American Scripture, a book that's been called the definitive statement
on the Declaration of Independence.

Speaker 7 (09:27):
The colonies had become a major purchaser of British goods.

Speaker 4 (09:31):
That was clear.

Speaker 7 (09:31):
They had surpassed the West Indies, who were always the preferred.

Speaker 4 (09:35):
Colonies earlier on.

Speaker 7 (09:36):
But the Americans had come to import far more British goods.
So he thought, if we lose the American colonies, that
was his greatest nightmare. If we lose the American colonies,
we shall sink back into obscurity and be just a small,
insignificant island once again. So we wanted to be severe
in making sure that didn't happen.

Speaker 1 (09:54):
To address the rising tension, twelve of the thirteen colonies
formed the First Continental cong in September seventeen seventy four.
The delegates agreed on an economic boycott of British goods
and submitted a list of grievances to the King for remedy.
They adjourned on October twenty sixth, seventeen seventy four, but
resolved that if the British Parliament refused to address their grievances,

(10:17):
they'd meet again a few months later. But the King's
intentions soon became clear. On April eighteenth, seventeen seventy five,
British troops marched on Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, effectively
kicking off the American Revolutionary War. By the time the
Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia just three weeks later,

(10:40):
the thirteen American colonies were a complete disarray again. The
late Colleen Mayor.

Speaker 7 (10:46):
There are thirteen colonies who are uniting for independence. The
government is in a state of disarray. Some of these
colonies still have their colonial governments in place, but not
very many. In one colony after another, the revolutionary governments
have taken the place of the regular official crown government,

(11:09):
and they normally took the form of an elected legislature,
which wasn't called a legislature.

Speaker 4 (11:15):
If it was extra leg it'll be a convention or
a congress.

Speaker 7 (11:18):
So these bodies of elected delegates and if you will,
of the people were the operational government in most colonies,
and a couple still had the old legal governments. Again,
of course, so it's a kind of a mishmash. But
all of these colonies are sending delegations to the Continental Congress.
Like the Second Continental Congress first convenes right after electing

(11:39):
and conquered on May tenth, seventeen seventy five. Is it
kind of a jerry built institution. It isn't meant to
be a government. It becomes the first government of the
United States. But the delegates who were elected there probably
thought they were going to be like the members of
the first Continental Congress, just come together to discuss the situation,

(12:00):
to see what could be done, to make some grand
policy statements, and they probably expected they'd be able to
go home and under two months like the delegates to
the first Congress. But the situations entirely changed as a
result of Lexington and conquered. The Congress finds itself de
facto the government for all practical purposes a.

Speaker 4 (12:19):
Nation at war.

Speaker 7 (12:20):
So very soon they'd have to make decisions for the military.
They're making decisions for Indian affairs. One topic after another
falls on their agenda, and they become, in fact the
government of a country to be.

Speaker 1 (12:41):
As the Second Continental Congress was hastily addressing one crisis
after another. In October seventeen seventy five, King George the
Third gave a speech to Parliament that showed the colonists
were going to be in for the fight of their lives.

Speaker 2 (12:56):
It has now become the parts of wisdom and in
its effects of clemency, to put a speedy end to
these disorders by most decisive exertions. For this purpose, I
have increased my naval establishment and greatly augmented my land forces,
but in such a manner as may be the least
burthensome to my kingdoms. When the unhappy and diluted multitudes

(13:20):
against whom this force will be directed shall become sensible
of their errors, I shall be ready to receive the
misled with tenderness and mercy.

Speaker 1 (13:31):
When word of the speech made its way to America.
It enraged the colonist but even as the conflict escalated
from protest over taxation to all at war, it was
thought that many colonists still considered themselves loyal British subjects.
So in January seventeen seventy six, Thomas Paine anonymously published
Common Sense, a scathing rebuke of British rule in the

(13:54):
American colonies. The forty seven page pamphlet was an immediate success,
selling more than five hundred thousand copies in just a
few months. The revolutionary idea of independence was already quietly
spreading amongst the colonists, but Common Sense set out loud
when everyone was whispering, and in language that even the

(14:15):
common man could understand. Common Sense is thought to have
galvanized the revolutionary idea of independence, already spreading amongst the colonists. Again,
Pauline Mayer.

Speaker 7 (14:30):
Common Sense is published at a point where the information
arriving in America is starting to make the Congress think,
you know, maybe that's where we're going with.

Speaker 1 (14:39):
The idea of independence coursing through the colonies. Veins on
May fifteenth, seventeen seventy six, a revolutionary Virginia Convention passed
a resolution giving their delegates at the Second Continental Congress
the authority to propose independence for the American colonies. About
three weeks later, on June seventh, seventeen seventy six, the

(14:59):
Virginian dea get Richard Henry Lee, walked onto the floor
of Congress, and just as his colony instructed him to do,
he proposed a resolution that read, quote.

Speaker 2 (15:09):
These United Colonies are and of right ought to be
free and independent states, that they are absolved from all
allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connections
between them and the State of Great Britain is and
ought to be totally dissolved.

Speaker 1 (15:25):
It came to be known as the Lee Resolution. The
delegate from Massachusetts, John Adams, who had been tirelessly working
to bring independence to a vote, seconded the resolution, and
a debate erupted among the gathered delegates. This is when
things started to get interesting. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Max, Disney Plus,

(15:49):
Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Showtime, Paramount, Paramount Plus, and on
and on. What are the streaming services have in common?
They are all storytelling platforms. Which of these these platforms
are you supporting with your hard earned money. Now ask
yourself if the story is being told on those platforms
truly align with your worldview, and if they don't, ask

(16:09):
yourself where you go to get entertainment in the form
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America is that show. We are not another talk show
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And why aren't there more shows like ours? Because it's
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(16:32):
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Speaker 2 (16:58):
Welcome back to red Pilled America. So the Virginia delegate,
Richard Henry Lee proposed a resolution for the colonies to
declare independence from the crown. John Adams seconded the resolution,
and a debate erupted among the gathered delegates. John Adams
wanted to immediately declare independence. He was on the front
lines of British aggression in Massachusetts, but it was believed

(17:20):
that several of the middle colonies were not yet on
board with taking that radical step towards independence from Great Britain.
Again Pauline Mayer.

Speaker 7 (17:28):
This government of the United States, called the Second Continental Congress,
didn't have a written constitution, but limited what it could
do were the instructions that delegations received from their states.
They couldn't do anything that a majority of delegates were
not authorized to do.

Speaker 2 (17:42):
Thomas Jefferson was a delegate from Virginia. In his notes
on the Lee Resolution debate, Jefferson wrote that several delegates
argued to put off a vote because some of their
colleagues had not yet been empowered by their home colonies
to vote on such a resolution. They argued to wait
until quote, the voice of the people drove us into it.
Apparently some of the founding fathers understood at the very

(18:06):
formation of America that politics is downstream of culture. Well,
these arguments were successful, Congress decided to give the hesitant
colonies some time. Around three weeks However, anticipating that they'd

(18:26):
eventually joined the cause, Congress appointed a committee to draft
a declaration so that if the Lee Resolution passed, the
colonies would quickly announce their independence to the world. The
drafting committee included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Robert Livingstone, Roger Sherman,
and Benjamin Franklin. This committee of five worked to put
together a draft for what would come to be known

(18:48):
as the Declaration of Independence. Again Pauline Mayer, author of
American Scripture.

Speaker 7 (18:53):
It was written as part of a committee that Congress
had set up in June, so they had a document
ready to release if they did find decide on independence.
The committee seems to have met outlined the document pointed.
The draftsman intervened occasionally say would you change to this
or that.

Speaker 2 (19:11):
Thomas Jefferson was appointed as the draftsman. He passed along
an early outline to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. They
made some changes. John Adams later recalled that it took
Thomas Jefferson about a day or two to create the draft.

Speaker 7 (19:24):
This achievement was the work of many hands. What I
say about is Jefferson was a fine draftsman, not author,
but draftsman who is good enough to draft the Declaration
of Independence? Because John Adams said other more important things to.

Speaker 2 (19:39):
Do Throughout the entire Second Continental Congress, John Adams was
trying to persuade the other delegates into supporting a resolution
of independence. The situation was dire for his colony. It's
where the American Revolutionary War kicked off.

Speaker 7 (19:53):
Through much of that time, Thomas Jefferson wasn't even in
the Congress. He was taking a break through his home
and Madicella. But Adams was in there working all the time.
You know, he has his sense of involvement in the
affairs of the nation, and he stays sacrificing his personal preferences.

Speaker 2 (20:10):
The resolution for independence was of the utmost importance because
it was the necessary procedure that gave them the authority
granted by the people to form a new nation. Without it,
they had nothing so before, during and immediately after the
Lee Resolution was proposed, John Adams was working the crowd
and it paid off. On July second, seventeen seventy six,

(20:32):
twelve of the thirteen colonies voted in favor of independence
from Great Britain. At the time, the New York delegates
could not cast a vote because they were waiting on
instructions from their colony. That vote on July second, seventeen
seventy six is what would eventually create the United States
of America, and John Adams is credited with being the
primary force behind the momentous achievement.

Speaker 7 (20:54):
He was the person that did, I think the basic
political organizing that all that vote on July second to
be passed ultimately unanimously, I mean the real work of
making independence be possible.

Speaker 2 (21:12):
On the evening of July second, seventeen seventy six, the
Pennsylvania Evening Post published news of the resolution, stating, quote,
this day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies free
and independent states. Now that the colonies had voted for

(21:34):
separation from Great Britain, the declaration of that independence became
the next order of action. At the time, the declaration
of Independence was thought to simply be a public announcement
of the monumental resolution that passed on July second. A
few days earlier, the Committee of Five presented a draft
of the declaration to Congress. It incorporated the ideas of

(21:55):
English philosopher John Locke, adapted texts from the Virginia Declaration
of Rights written by George Mason, included ideas expressed in
Thomas Paine's Common Sense, incorporated the text of the July
second Lee Resolution and also borrowed texts from Thomas Jefferson's
previous writings. The culture at the time did not hold
novelty in high regard. The colonists more valued adaptation of

(22:18):
the great thinkers of the era, and Thomas Jefferson didn't
drift far from that cultural norm.

Speaker 7 (22:23):
The Congress then took it in for two days, and
to me, this is the most wonderful part of the
whole story of the declaration. In the midst of one
of the greatest military crises of the war, with the
British rolling into New York, hundreds of big sailing ships,
going to be the greatest army and navy ever seen
in North America. The government in charge is the Congress. Nonetheless,

(22:45):
it'd start their day sending out some military orders, and
then between July second and fourth, they sat down and they.

Speaker 4 (22:51):
Edited the draft, and they did a brilliant job.

Speaker 7 (22:53):
It's one of those written by committee, tends to be,
you know, a great put down. This was edited by
Congress and it emerged a much better document than the
one that they received from the committee.

Speaker 2 (23:05):
Papers ran the text of the Declaration of Independence as
front page news. It expressed high minded ideals, but ultimately
it was the official announcement of the Lee Resolution that
was passed on July second, seventeen seventy six.

Speaker 7 (23:21):
Originally this was on some level of press announcement. It
was telling the American people that Congress had decided that
they would be a separate nation. It was the vehicle
by which it was sent out to the people and
the cities and towns, and to the soldiers and the army.
And when they had heard the news, the document sort
of lost its importance. The principles that we remember and

(23:43):
the second paragraph weren't particularly commented.

Speaker 2 (23:46):
On, the second paragraph being we hold these truths to
be self evident, that all men are created equal, and
so on. The founders did not intend that particular passage
to mean individual equality. What they were arguing was that
the American colonists as a people had a right to
self governance. That alone was a radical statement, and it

(24:07):
was that message that was of importance to the people.

Speaker 7 (24:11):
What they quoted was the last paragraph that said that
these United Colonies are of right to be free in
independent states. And hey, once they got the news, the
declaration wasn't very important anymore, and they didn't pay much
attention to it for twenty years. The independence hadn't passed
on July second, this little draft would have been scrap paper.

Speaker 2 (24:30):
And the proof of this assertion is everywhere in the record.
The Declaration of Independence that we all know open stating
in Congress July fourth, seventeen seventy six the Unanimous Declaration
of the thirteen United States of America. But on the
actual date of July fourth, seventeen seventy six, the vote
was not yet unanimous. Remember, the New York delegates could

(24:50):
not vote on the July second Lee resolution because their
colony hadn't yet given them the authority to do so.
That didn't come until July ninth. Have established that the
declaration wasn't even signed on July fourth by all of
the delegates. The majority of signatures came on August second,
seventeen seventy six, and some even signed later than that.

Speaker 7 (25:17):
Again, Pauline Mayer, the Congress adopts independence on July second,
seventeen seventy six, It issues the declaration on the fourth.

Speaker 4 (25:26):
After New York comes in.

Speaker 7 (25:28):
The Congress then says, aha, it is now the Unanimous
Declaration of the United States of America and orders it
put on parchment. It's only after it's on parchment and
is brought back to Congress, and on August second, that
they formally signed the document. Now they don't always sign
it on that date. Some people came in later and said,

(25:49):
I'd like to sign the Declaration of Independence, And Congress
doesn't actually circulate a copy of the document with signatures
until January seventeen seventy seven. Why well, this was a
confession of treason. You were putting your head in the noose.
And the war went very, very poorly in seventeen seventy six.
Think of Washington losing on Long Island, retreating up Manhattan,

(26:14):
retreating down the Jersey coast, crossing the Delaware Hat looked
real bad till the end of the year, till Trenton
and Princeton.

Speaker 2 (26:21):
The battles of Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey from December
twenty sixth, seventeen seventy six to January third, seventeen seventy seven,
were the first real victories for General George Washington.

Speaker 7 (26:32):
Only after Trenton and Princeton made it possible to believe
that the Americans could to stay in the field they
might possibly win this war. Only then did they circulate
the document with their signatures.

Speaker 2 (26:44):
So the true date of Independence Day is July second,
seventeen seventy six, the date the Lee resolution was approved,
and that was John Adams's initial belief.

Speaker 1 (26:54):
On July third, seventeen seventy six, the day after the
resolution for independence was approved, Adams wrote his wife Abigail
Adams a letter. In it he stated, quote, the second
day of July seventeen seventy six will be the most
memorable EPOCA in the history of America. I am apt
to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations

(27:14):
as the great anniversary festival. End quote. But the following year,
with the American Revolutionary War raging, Congress apparently didn't think
of celebrating the birth of the nation until July second,
and didn't say anything about it until July third, a
day too late to mark the actual approval of independence.
So they celebrated it in Philadelphia the following day on

(27:36):
the fourth of July, and the date stuck. Over the
next few years, the actual day of American independence and
the public declaration of it were melded into one celebrating
the anniversary of Independence on July fourth, instead of the
actual day it happened two days earlier, would slowly become
a nationwide tradition. And how that happened is another opening

(28:00):
rabbit hole. From the late seventeen seventies and throughout the
seventeen eighties, the celebration of Independence Day was not a
widely adopted event. In fact, by the end of the
American Revolutionary War in seventeen eighty three, the anniversary of
the country's birth wasn't universally celebrated. But by the seventeen
nineties that started to change. A political rivalry began to

(28:25):
emerge between John Adams's Federalist Party and Thomas Jefferson's Democratic
Republican Party. The Federalists wanted to build both an economic
and diplomatic relationship with the British. In their eyes, the
Declaration hurt those efforts because of its anti crown rhetoric.
At the same time, Thomas Jefferson was also building a
narrative to place himself as the primary author of the Declaration,

(28:48):
So the Federalists didn't want to center an annual celebration
of independence around a document. Many were beginning to believe
was authored solely by their political rival, So the Federalists
celebrated with little mention of the declaration. The Democratic Republicans,
on the other hand, seized on the Jefferson narrative. Their

(29:09):
party's newspapers featured Independence Day being on the fourth of July,
with the Declaration at the center of its celebrations. In
their eyes, it was an immortal document. The Democratic Republicans
were in a bitter conflict with John Adams and the
Federalist and they used Independence Day as a way to
prop up their party's leader, Thomas Jefferson and diminish their rival.

(29:31):
In response, the Federalists correctly argued that Thomas Jefferson was
only one member of the five member committee that drafted
the declaration, and they claimed that the few passages attributed
to him were pulled almost verbatim from writings of John
Locke and others. But after America's War of eighteen twelve

(29:53):
with Great Britain, the Federalist Party faded and eventually ceased
to exist. The two party system that would emerge. The
Whigs and the Jacksonians claimed to be the offspring of
the Democratic Republican Party. Political opposition to the narrative that
Thomas Jefferson was the sole author was gone, and this
is when the Declaration of Independence began its journey in

(30:13):
becoming the sacred scripture of American independence.

Speaker 2 (30:17):
Even as late as eighteen seventeen, the celebration of independence
was not a widely adopted occasion. John Adams said at
the time, I see no disposition to celebrate or remember,
or even curiosity to inquire into the characters, actions, or
events of the revolution. But as the eighteen twenties approached,
a new generation of Americans became interested in the country's

(30:40):
birth again. Pauline Mayer.

Speaker 7 (30:43):
Just before the fiftieth anniversary of Independence, a group of
younger Americans became very interested in recovering their revolutionary heritage,
saving the documents that were being lost, talking to people
who were dying, and they heroicized the people who had
made this nation.

Speaker 2 (31:01):
They turned to the few founders still living, John Adams
and Thomas Jefferson. And of course, as many clearly understand today,
it is the writers that define our history. This was
something described Thomas Jefferson must have understood. Around the time
of this new reverence for the birth of the nation.
Congress commissioned four large paintings from artist John Trumbull to

(31:22):
commemorate the American Revolution. When complete, the paintings were to
hang in the rotunda at the American Capital. And how
did he get this job? A few years after the
end of the American Revolutionary War, John Trumbull was in
Paris working on a painting when he connected with Thomas Jefferson,
who was there serving as the American Minister to France.
It was during this time, in seventeen eighty six, that

(31:44):
Trumbull worked with Thomas Jefferson on an early sketch of
the drafting committee presenting the Declaration of Independence to Congress.
Jefferson would go on to recommend Trumbull to take on
the task of documenting the American Revolution through art.

Speaker 7 (31:57):
The first he turned to was Declaration of Independence. It
was by far the most popular of the series. It
was shown to large audiences and cities.

Speaker 2 (32:07):
In the final piece, a huge twelve by eighteen foot
oil on canvas painting, Thomas Jefferson appears to be stepping
on John adams foot.

Speaker 7 (32:15):
John Adams later criticized that painting, and he said it
was part of the evolving myth historical myth that was
starting to become apparent in the eighteen twenties.

Speaker 2 (32:24):
Around the time of this new reverence for the American Revolution,
Thomas Jefferson played a part in building the narrative around
the Declaration of Independence. In notes he inserted into his autobiography,
he gave a detailed account of the development of the document.
Jefferson claimed they were taken from notes at the time
of the debate in June and July of seventeen seventy six,
but many scholars believe that they were created while he

(32:46):
was working on his autobiography over forty years after the
declaration was created. As evidence, they point to the well
established fact that the Declaration of Independence was not signed
until August second, seventeen seventy six. Jefferson's notes claimed that
it happened on the fourth of July, a date that
made for a neat and tidy story.

Speaker 7 (33:06):
I mean, you know, do you believe what people say
forty and fifty years after the fact, I get things
confused the next week. I mean, and this is a
long time afterwards. Nobody bothered to ask the questions, really
until after the War of eighteen twelve, when the younger
generation of Americans became very interested in the revolutionary past

(33:27):
and dedicated themselves to not only saving the documents of
the time which were being lost and separated and so on,
but the memories of the revolutionaries who they realized were
dying right and left, taking all kinds of knowledge with them.
So they went out and asked people questions. Now that
of course biases what we know. The survivors told the story,

(33:50):
and you have to take what they said and look
at them against harder evidence from early on to sort
of assess what's reliable.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
Unbelievably, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the
fourth of July eighteen twenty six, the fiftieth anniversary of
the Declaration of Independence. John Adams saw the Declaration as
a vehicle to announce America's independence from Great Britain. Thomas
Jefferson came to a different understanding of the document. Upon

(34:20):
his death, he wanted his tombstone to read not that
he was the third President of the United States, but
instead that he was quote author of the Declaration of
American Independence.

Speaker 6 (34:31):
Quote.

Speaker 2 (34:32):
Thomas Jefferson thought of the document as one that would
inspire revolution, but it would be Abraham Lincoln that would
give the Declaration of Independence the meaning that modern Americans recognized. Today.
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Speaker 1 (35:52):
Welcome back to red pilled America. So, according to the
contemporaneous evidence of seventeen seventy six, the true date of
American independence is July second, seventeen seventy six. It was
the day that the colonies delegates voted and approved on
the Lee Resolution that dissolved the relationship with Great Britain.
The declaration announced that independence, and to the colonist at

(36:14):
the time, the key message in the announcement was the
closing argument.

Speaker 2 (36:17):
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America
in General, Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of
the World for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in
the name and by authority of the good people of
these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are,
and of the right ought to be free and independent states,

(36:39):
that they are absolved from all allegiances to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State
of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.

Speaker 1 (36:50):
In July seventeen seventy six. Independence from Great Britain was
the radical notion, but it wasn't until Abraham Lincoln used
the Declaration of a Dependents as a weapon in his
crusade that it would take on the meaning that modern
Americans recognized today.

Speaker 2 (37:08):
The writers of American history often paint an incorrect picture.
At the birth of the nation, all whites were equal
and all blacks were still slaves, is the state of
the narrative today. But it wasn't so black and white.
It's true that when America won its independence from Great Britain,
the idea expressed in the Declaration of Independence that we
recall most today that all men are created equal did

(37:28):
not become the law of the land. There was, of course, slavery,
but there were free blacks at the birth of the
nation as well. Some owned land, homes, businesses, and a
rare few even owned slaves. In a few northern cities,
black property owners voted, and all whites didn't miraculously have
equal status after the American Revolution. When Americans first voted

(37:49):
for president in seventeen eighty nine, only six percent of
the population could vote, voting was not expanded to all
white men until as late as eighteen fifty six, and
for others it would come much later than that. And
that is because when the Founders approved the wording of
the Declaration of Independence, they did not mean each individual

(38:10):
man was created equal. They meant the colonists as a
whole had the same rights to self governance as Great Britain.
But as time passed, the wording of the declaration would
be reinterpreted. From the eighteen thirties and beyond, the contradiction

(38:31):
between what the Founders declared and how the country was
being governed was hotly debated, and that's when the Declaration
of Independence started to take in entirely new importance and meaning.
Again the late Pauline.

Speaker 7 (38:43):
Mayor what really gets the Declaration of Independence, I think
on the American agenda is the controversy over slavery. The
statement all men are created equal obviously contradicted the existence
of a system of slavery, because slaves held their status
by heredity and they were not subject to their masters
by consent.

Speaker 4 (39:04):
That drove the defenders.

Speaker 7 (39:06):
Of slavery to contest the Declaration of Independence, and the
statement all men are created equal became particularly controversial, and
it became denied. Now, if you were an American who
had been raised to hold these traditions in this document
with a certain amount of reverence, this was offensive, and
certainly those who found slavery itself offensive sprung to the

(39:29):
defense of the Declaration of Independence, and it became very
central to the debates. It was, in part the attacks
on the Declaration of Independence, I think that brought Abraham
Lincoln back into politics.

Speaker 2 (39:40):
Abraham Lincoln was a congressman from Illinois from eighteen forty
seven to eighteen forty nine.

Speaker 7 (39:45):
Here you have a little known Illinois lawyer who had
served one term in Congress before his constituents turned him
out because they had rather different views on the Mexican
War than he had. You can sort of see him
in his own office with his feet up on the desk,
reading the Congressional Globe the debates over of the Kansas
Nebraska Act, which would have extended slavery into what had

(40:08):
been free territory.

Speaker 4 (40:10):
To him, that's wrong. He sees the attacks on the
Declaration that are being.

Speaker 7 (40:14):
Raised, he's offended by them, and he goes back into politics.

Speaker 2 (40:19):
Shortly after he re entered politics, Abraham Lincoln ran for
Senator of Illinois against Stephen Douglas, the man who brought
into Congress the Kansas Nebraska Bill. Lincoln went on the offense.

Speaker 7 (40:30):
He starts attacking him in sort of isolated speeches. By
the time he is the Republican candidate for the Senate,
of course, we have these famous debates, the Lincoln Douglas debates.
They are almost exclusively one issue debates. They're over the
expansion of slavery, and a good bit of the difference
turns on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. At

(40:56):
this point, Lincoln, he's really building on the debates.

Speaker 4 (40:59):
That's that he's encountered.

Speaker 7 (41:01):
Indeed, members of the Republican Party have taken the Declaration
of Independence as a statement of their founding principles. So
he's part of a group of people. He's not isolated.
That's very important to know. And he builds on arguments
that he's encounter that have been made by others, and
he reinterprets the document, what does it mean that all
men are created equal?

Speaker 4 (41:22):
While he made sense of it.

Speaker 7 (41:24):
By taking the first statement and alliding it with the second.
All men are created equal, that they are endowed by
their creator with certain inalienable rights.

Speaker 4 (41:32):
He confuses it too.

Speaker 7 (41:33):
He says, the founders did not say that men are
created identical in their appearance, or their talents, or their
physical strength. They are equal in rights. This, he says,
the founder said in this they meant. Whether that's what
the Declaration said is open to contest, But it doesn't matter.
It made sense of the document, and it made it

(41:55):
rather more like a bill of rights and a message
important for not just black Americans, but for all Americans.

Speaker 2 (42:02):
In other words, Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans transformed the
Declaration of Independence. They transformed it from a justification for
why people as a whole had a right to self
governance to a document the demanded equal treatment of each
individual in the eyes of the law. And when that
was accomplished, when Lincoln won that argument, the Declaration of

(42:22):
Independence became a national treasure for the entire nation. The
proof of its new importance came next July fourth. Independence
Day was officially made a federal holiday in eighteen seventy.
In eighteen seventy six, at the one hundred year anniversary
of the nation, the United States government began treating the
Declaration of Independence with the care we'd expect today. When

(42:45):
officials looked to put it on display for that bi
centennial celebration, they retrieved the original document from a wall
in the Patent Office.

Speaker 4 (42:53):
Was fated.

Speaker 7 (42:53):
It wasn't taken care of very well in the early years.
It was sort of rolled up around with the Second
Continental Congress, and then the State Department kept it and
people came, they'd pull it out and show it to them,
the real thing, and then they got tired of pulling
it out, so they pasted it.

Speaker 4 (43:09):
Up on a wall.

Speaker 2 (43:10):
It was opposite a large sun drenched window, where it
had been hanging for roughly thirty five years. The document
was faded, hardly legible. A Librarian of Congress annual report
would later call it one of the most abused documents
in the history of preservation, battered and bandaged since its
birth quote. But from that moment forward it would undergo

(43:32):
a preservation effort that continues to this day, which leads
us back to the question, does America really need two
independence holidays? The answer is no, because the Declaration of Independence,
the same document we celebrate on the fourth of July,
was used to free the slaves.

Speaker 4 (43:51):
At the time.

Speaker 1 (43:52):
The Declaration of Independence was created. It was an effect
a press announcement of America's independence from Great Britain. That
was the original of the document, and that's what it
represented for decades. But Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans transformed
it into a new document. They shifted focus away from
its original intent and instead focused it on the principles

(44:13):
expressed in the document's second paragraph, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. Lincoln used this argument in his
famous debates with Stephen Douglas. When his army won the
pivotal Battle of Gettysburg, they woke up after their victory

(44:36):
to the morning of July fourth, eighteen sixty three, almost
divine providence. Lincoln returned to Gettysburg later that year and
used the Declaration of Independents to rally his Union forces.

Speaker 2 (44:49):
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Speaker 1 (44:59):
When Abraham Lincoln successfully used the ideas expressed in the
Declaration of Independence to end slavery. That Fourth of July
document represented freedom for all, white, black, and everything in between.
Hundreds of thousands of men, white men died to help
realize the promise of the Declaration of Independence. That's something

(45:20):
you won't hear in the Juneteenth celebration because that holiday
was designed to create conflict, while the Fourth of July
is one that celebrates unity.

Speaker 2 (45:36):
This was the rabbit hole Steve Hauser sent us down
all from a simple question about how fireworks were connected
to the Fourth of July. How did fireworks kind of
become connected to the Fourth of July celebrations?

Speaker 6 (45:48):
Do you know anything about that?

Speaker 5 (45:49):
Yeah? Actually, that was one of our founding fathers, John Adams.
He actually had written a letter. John Adams wrote a
letter to his wife. In his writing this letter, he wrote,
but the day has passed, the second day of July
seventeen seventy six will be the most memorable epaca in
the history of America. I'm apt to believe that it

(46:10):
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 shows, game sports, guns, bells,
bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to

(46:32):
the other from this time forward, forevermore. And that was
really when the shift to fireworks and celebrating the independence
of the United States of America as a celebration nationally
became immortalized with his words.

Speaker 1 (46:52):
Red Pilled America's an iHeartRadio original podcast. It's produced by
me Adrianna Quortez and Patrick Carrelci for Informed Ventures. Our
entire archive of episodes is only available to our backstage subscribers.
To subscribe, visit Redpilled America dot com and click support
in the top MEENU, thanks for listening.
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