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July 2, 1776: A Look Back At The Lee Resolution

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On this Fourth of July weekend, let's remember the days leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On this day in 1776, John Adams wrote this letter to his wife Abigail.

PEYTON DIXON: (Reading) 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.

WERTHEIMER: That's Peyton Dixon, who will perform as John Adams tomorrow at Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the letter, Adams celebrates the 2 of July. That was when the Continental Congress voted for the states to become independent by approving a document called the Lee Resolution. Two days later, Congress finalized another document, the one we know as the Declaration of Independence.

WERTHEIMER: Dixon says the Declaration was meant to explain Congress's decision.

DIXON: It was imperative not only for the people to know it, but it was necessary because the world was watching.

WERTHEIMER: John Adams was wrong about which day would become linked with America's birthday, but he was right about how it would be remembered.

DIXON: (Reading) 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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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