Quotes of John Adams: Letter to his wife

The question of declaring the complete independence of the colonies, moved by Richard Henry Lee, was resumed on the 1st of July, when about fifty-one delegates appeared in their places, at this particular meeting of the Continental Congress. By this time the opinion in favor of separation was nearly unanimous. . Before the great business of the day came on, a letter was read from Washington, giving a very bad account of his forces at New York. The accumulated disasters of the invading army in Canada were also known; and news had been received of the threatening movement of Parker and Clinton against Charleston, but not of its defeat. The prospects of the infant republic, whose birth was about to be formally announced to the world, were, therefore, far from encouraging; yet the faith of those daring statesmen in the force and vitality of their idea was sufficient to triumph over all discouragements and all adverse fortunes.

The first speaker was John Adams, who had seconded Lee's resolution, and who recapitulated the arguments in favor of a declaration of independence. He was replied to by Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, who, though patriotic, thought the movement injudicious. A long and impassioned debate followed, after which action was postponed till the following day. On putting the resolution to vote, it was passed by a majority of the delegates of all the colonies, with the exception of New York, which had lacked time to express its wishes. The sanction of New York was given a week afterwards.

John Adams, writing to his wife at Boston, on the 3d of July, to communicate to her the grand event in which he had acted so important a part, hailed that second day of July, 1776, as the most memorable epoch in the history of America. "I am apt to believe," he said, "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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, for evermore. You will think me transported by 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 triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not."

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