Lying Media Bastards

July 5, 2007

A Few Words About Historical Bullshit

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It seems like almost every holiday that comes along, I have to research it, discover its misleading/sinister/jingoistic origins, and then write about it here with lots of smirks and swearing. Surprisingly, this is the first time I’ve looked into America’s Independence Day, aka “The Fourth of July”.

As the story goes, since July 4, 1776 was the day that the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, that’s as good a day as any to celebrate the nation’s “birth”.

Except that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed on July 4, 1776.

Here’s a bit of a timeline, leaning heavily on the book “Founding Myths”* by Ray Raphael:

- July 2, 1776. Majority of Continental Congress votes in favor of the Declaration of Independence.
- July 19, 1776. New York delegation finally agrees to Declaration, making the vote unanimous.
- August 2, 1776. Delegates start to sign Declaration.
- Spring 1777. Last delegate signs D of I.
- Spring 1777. The Congressional Record of Continental Congress published, containing a totally fabricated entry for July 4, 1776, claiming that Declaration of Independence was signed that day, even though it hadn’t even been unanimously agreed to yet.
- 1777-? American “patriots” push July 4 holiday.
- 1786. July 4 holiday established in most major American cities, usually comprised of a military parade, a reading of patriotic speeches, singing of patriotic songs, and then a meal, drink, thirteen toasts to the thirteen colonies, then bonfires, parties and fireworks.

Oh, and that famous painting of the signing and appears on the back of the 2 dollar bill? Painted 32 years later by a man who wasn’t at the signing. It was primarily based upon a rough sketch provided by Thomas Jefferson, who had his own glory and agenda in mind.

Happy Birthday, America.

*“Founding Myths” is a pretty intriguing book. While it digs up the truth behind the most iconic stories and characters from the American Revolution, it is also in some ways, a history of history. Ray Raphael points out that many events and persons who were not seen as remarkable at the time were later “discovered” by historians, decades or centuries later, and then history revised to turn them into stars of the tale. And while some of these “discoveries” were deserving of the extra attention, many were hyped due to the discoverer’s agenda, or rose to prominance because of their compelling story rather than their actual importance. The book also vivisects Mel Gibson’s Revolutionary War movie “The Patriot” for its contradictory and misleading version of historical events.

Posted by Jake on July 5, 2007 11:40 pm

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