Sitting here listening to the rain pouring down on the 4th of July made me ask Google what the weather was like on that fateful day in 1776. What was it like?
Well, this question brought up some unusual answers I had never thought about. They didn’t have spiffy weathermen or predicting stations in that time. They got the weather of the time by the readings of Thomas Jefferson who purchased a thermometer when he got to Philadelphia for the price equivalent today of $300.00. He normally took weather conditions twice a day in the early morning for the low and at 4:00 pm in the afternoon for the high. Three others took similar measurements with remarkably the same afternoon temperatures, but he was the most famous to do so.
On the 1st of July in his travels to Philadelphia, he recorded temperatures of a clear, humid 80 degrees until the afternoon when thunderstorms broke out.
I bring up the 1st of July because that is when the Continental Congress met to argue about independence. What most people don’t know about the Declaration of Independence is that 12 of the 13 colonies (New York delegates did not have permission to vote that day) voted for in favor of the motion by Richard Henry Lee for independence on the 2nd of July, not the 4th. The Congress then spent the next two days debating and revising the document. The official Declaration of Independence was then adopted on the 4th of July, our celebrated holiday. The document wasn’t signed until August 2nd by most of the delegates. About 5 signatures came later, and two of the delegates, John Dickerson (New York) and Robert R. Livingston (Delaware), never signed although both are known as founding fathers for all they did for the people in bringing England’s rule to an end,
On the fourth, a committee of 5 delegates including Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin took the document to a Philadelphia printer John Dunlop. They printed hundreds of copies of the unsigned Declaration to be distributed in the colonies. These papers became known as the “Dunlop Broadsides.” Only 26 of the copies exist today, one found in a garage sale on the back of a picture and purchased for $4 in 1989. It sold in 2000 for a cool $8.1 million.
On the 9th of July, the Dunlop Broadside reached George Washington in New York who read it aloud at City Hall. This caused a riot. The statue of George III was melted down and used to make 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American Army.
The official Declaration of Independence now resides in the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charter of Freedom next to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. On the back of the document on the bottom and upside down are the words “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” During World War II, this precious document was wrapped in 150lbs. of protective gear and transported to Fort Knox where it spent the whole of the war until it was returned in 1944.
I hope you have enjoyed these tidbits as I sit here contemplating the past times. No matter what the weather or the political climate or the problems facing the American People, I believe the flag with its 13 stripes of red and white with the blue union holding 50 stars will always fly high.