Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

If you need a break from today's picnics, pools, hotdogs and beer, this is the post for you.

Indepdence Hall, Image ID 1039007 by davidlat on stockexchange photo credit to davidlat on StockExchange

Did You Know?

The Declaration of Independence was signed inside the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) on July 4th, 1776. The Declaration was first read aloud in public four days later, on July 8, 1776.

This Year’s Celebration

On Wednesday, July 8, 2009 the public is invited to join the staff of Independence National Historical Park to commemorate the 233rd anniversary of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Visit the Independence Hall Visitors’ Center

I worked in Philadelphia for about 4 years in the late 90's, for a company that had two offices in different quadrants of downtown. Several times a month I'd walk right past Independence Hall, then through City Hall and over to the other office. It was always amazing to me that modern city life happened all crammed up against historic sites. You could walk right by Independence Hall, or The Betsy Ross House and touch them.

Ever Heard The Declaration Read Aloud?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

As partial as I am to JFK, I like the Barker version because you can read the text onscreen as you listen to the audio. The language sounds archaic to today’s ears, so I think it helps to have the text visible.

Slightly more accessible and much longer, The Constitution of the United States, read aloud (courtesy of LibriVox and available in the public domain)

Declaration Trivia

  • The US government was almost overthrown a mere 17 years after the Declaration signing!

In the summer of 1793 “ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia … threatened to drag Washington out of his house, and effect a Revolution in Government” but an outbreak of yellow fever dispersed the mob and saved the national government. (J Adams to T Jefferson, June 30, 1813) (source)

  • Rhode Island was the only state which never sent a delegation to the Constitutional Convention. (source)

  • George Washington ran his presidency out of a rented Philadelphia town house on the corner of Sixth and Market. (source)

  • The Liberty Bell wasn’t put on public exhibit until 1852. (source)