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History > 17th -18th - 19th century > America, USA


USA > Independence Day - July 4th, 1776




Fourth of July

Monte Wolverton

Editorial cartoon


July 1, 2018










































Britain and America's war for independence


From 1774 to 1781,

Delegates from the 13 colonies

located along the eastern seaboard

of British North America

met in the First Continental Congress


and the Second Continental Congress


to declare their independence from England,

manage the Revolutionary War,

and set the groundwork

for what would become a new nation.


Following the ratification

of the Articles of Confederation,

which created

a limited central governing structure,

Delegates from the states

met in the Confederation Congress


to chart a path forward

with their newfound freedom.


When the Articles of Confederation

proved unable to meet

the needs of the young country,

states sent Delegates

to the Constitutional Convention

in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787

to draft a new, stronger governing document,

creating the United States of America

and its federal legislature,

including the House of Representatives.




























July 4th, 1776


The Declaration Of Independence


On July 4, 1776,

the Second Continental Congress,

meeting in Philadelphia

in the Pennsylvania State House

(now Independence Hall),


the Declaration of Independence,

severing the colonies'

ties to the British Crown.
























Declaration of Independence:

A Transcription



The following text is a transcription
of the Stone Engraving of the parchment
Declaration of Independence
(the document on display in the Rotunda
at the National Archives Museum.)

The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.



In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, 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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Declaration of Independence: A Transcription,






E Pluribus Unum


July 4, 2013

The New York Times



It’s that time of year — the long weekend when we gather with friends and family to celebrate hot dogs, potato salad and, yes, the founding of our nation. And it’s also a time for some of us to wax a bit philosophical, to wonder what, exactly, we’re celebrating. Is America in 2013, in any meaningful sense, the same country that declared independence in 1776?

The answer, I’d suggest, is yes. Despite everything, there is a thread of continuity in our national identity — reflected in institutions, ideas and, especially, in attitude — that remains unbroken. Above all, we are still, at root, a nation that believes in democracy, even if we don’t always act on that belief.

And that’s a remarkable thing when you bear in mind just how much the country has changed.

America in 1776 was a rural land, mainly composed of small farmers and, in the South, somewhat bigger farmers with slaves. And the free population consisted of, well, WASPs: almost all came from northwestern Europe, 65 percent came from Britain, and 98 percent were Protestants.

America today is nothing like that, even though some politicians — think Sarah Palin — like to talk as if the “real America” is still white, Protestant, and rural or small-town.

But the real America is, in fact, a nation of metropolitan areas, not small towns. Tellingly, even when Ms. Palin made her infamous remarks in 2008 she did so in Greensboro, N.C., which may not be in the Northeast Corridor but — with a metropolitan population of more than 700,000 — is hardly Mayberry. In fact, two-thirds of Americans live in metro areas with half-a-million or more residents.

Nor, by the way, are most of us living in leafy suburbs. America as a whole has only 87 people per square mile, but the average American, according to the Census Bureau, lives in a census tract with more than 5,000 people per square mile. For all the bashing of the Northeast Corridor as being somehow un-American, this means that the typical American lives in an environment that resembles greater Boston or greater Philadelphia more than it resembles Greensboro, let alone true small towns.

What do we do in these dense metropolitan areas? Almost none of us are farmers; few of us hunt; by and large, we sit in cubicles on weekdays and visit shopping malls on our days off.

And ethnically we are, of course, very different from the founders. Only a minority of today’s Americans are descended from the WASPs and slaves of 1776. The rest are the descendants of successive waves of immigration: first from Ireland and Germany, then from Southern and Eastern Europe, now from Latin America and Asia. We’re no longer an Anglo-Saxon nation; we’re only around half-Protestant; and we’re increasingly nonwhite.

Yet I would maintain that we are still the same country that declared independence all those years ago.

It’s not just that we have maintained continuity of legal government, although that’s not a small thing. The current government of France is, strictly speaking, the Fifth Republic; we had our anti-monarchical revolution first, yet we’re still on Republic No. 1, which actually makes our government one of the oldest in the world.

More important, however, is the enduring hold on our nation of the democratic ideal, the notion that “all men are created equal” — all men, not just men from certain ethnic groups or from aristocratic families. And to this day — or so it seems to me, and I’ve done a lot of traveling in my time — America remains uniquely democratic in its mannerisms, in the way people from different classes interact.

Of course, our democratic ideal has always been accompanied by enormous hypocrisy, starting with the many founding fathers who espoused the rights of man, then went back to enjoying the fruits of slave labor. Today’s America is a place where everyone claims to support equality of opportunity, yet we are, objectively, the most class-ridden nation in the Western world — the country where children of the wealthy are most likely to inherit their parents’ status. It’s also a place where everyone celebrates the right to vote, yet many politicians work hard to disenfranchise the poor and nonwhite.

But that very hypocrisy is, in a way, a good sign. The wealthy may defend their privileges, but given the temper of America, they have to pretend that they’re doing no such thing. The block-the-vote people know what they’re doing, but they also know that they mustn’t say it in so many words. In effect, both groups know that the nation will view them as un-American unless they pay at least lip service to democratic ideals — and in that fact lies the hope of redemption.

So, yes, we are still, in a deep sense, the nation that declared independence and, more important, declared that all men have rights. Let’s all raise our hot dogs in salute.

E Pluribus Unum, NYT, 4.7.2013,






Celebrating July 2

10 Days That Changed History


July 2, 2006
The New York Times


IT'S a badly kept secret among scholars of American history that nothing much really happened on Thursday, July 4, 1776.

Although this date is emblazoned on the Declaration, the Colonies had actually voted for independence two days earlier; the document wasn't signed until a month later. When John Adams predicted that the "great anniversary festival" would be celebrated forever, from one end of the continent to the other, he was talking about July 2.

Indeed, the dates that truly made a difference aren't always the ones we know by heart; frequently, they've languished in dusty oblivion. The 10 days that follow — obscure as some are — changed American history. (In some cases, they are notable for what didn't happen rather than what did.)

This list is quirky rather than comprehensive, and readers may want to continue the parlor game on their own. But while historians may argue endlessly about causes and effects — many even question the idea that any single day can alter the course of human events — these examples show that destiny can turn on a slender pivot, and that history often occurs when nobody is watching.

Anyway, happy Second of July.


JUNE 8, 1610: A Lord's Landfall

Three years after its founding, the Virginia Colony was a failure. A few dozen starving settlers packed some meager possessions and sailed from Jamestown on June 7, headed back toward England. The next morning, to their surprise, they spotted a fleet coming toward them, carrying a new governor, Lord De La Warr, and a year's worth of supplies.

If not for his appearance, Virginia might have gone the way of so many lost colonies. What is now the Southeastern United States could well have ended up in the French or Dutch empires. Tobacco might never have become a cash crop, and the first African slaves would not have arrived in 1619.


OCT. 17, 1777: Victory Along the Hudson

If one date should truly get credit for securing America's independence, it is when the British general John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.

The battle's significance was more diplomatic than military: shortly after news reached Paris, the French king decided to enter the war on the American side. "If the French alliance and funding hadn't come through at that moment, it's hard to say how much longer we could have held out," says Stacy Schiff, author of "A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America." The American Revolution might have gone down in history as a brief provincial uprising, and the Declaration of Independence as a nice idea.


JUNE 20, 1790: Jefferson's Dinner Party

On this evening, Thomas Jefferson invited Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to dinner at his rented house on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. In the course of the night, Jefferson recalled, they brokered one of the great political deals in American history. Under the terms of the arrangement, the national capital would be situated on the Potomac, and the federal government would agree to take on the enormous war debts of the 13 states.

Had that meal never taken place, New York might still be the nation's capital. But even more important, the primacy of the central government might never have been established, says Ron Chernow, the Hamilton biographer. "The assumption of state debts was the most powerful bonding mechanism of the new Union," he says. "Without it, we would have had a far more decentralized federal system."


APRIL 19, 1802: Mosquitos Win the West

Events that change America don't always occur within our borders. Consider the spring of 1802. Napoleon had sent a formidable army under his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, to quell the rebellion of former slaves in Haiti.

On April 19, Leclerc reported to Napoleon that the rainy season had arrived, and his troops were falling ill. By the end of the year, almost the whole French force, including Leclerc himself, were dead of mosquito-borne yellow fever.

When Napoleon realized his reconquest had failed, he abandoned hopes of a New World empire, and decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States.

"Across a huge section of the American heartland, from New Orleans up through Montana, they ought to build statues to Toussaint L'Ouverture and the other heroes of the Haitian Revolution," says Ted Widmer, director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.


JAN. 12, 1848: An Ill-Advised Speech

His timing couldn't have been worse: With the Mexican War almost won, a freshman congressman rose to deliver a blistering attack on President Polk and his "half-insane" aggressive militarism. Almost from the moment he sat down again, the political career of Representative Abraham Lincoln seemed doomed by the antiwar stand he had taken just when most Americans were preparing their victory celebrations.

Yet that speech saved Lincoln. "It cast him into the political wilderness," says Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of "Lincoln's Melancholy." This insulated him during the politically treacherous years of the early 1850's — when Americans divided bitterly over slavery — and positioned him to emerge as a national leader on the eve of the Civil War. Lincoln's early faux pas also taught him to be a pragmatist, not just a moralist. "If he had been successful in the 1840's, the Lincoln of history — the Lincoln who saved the Union — would never have existed," Mr. Shenk says.


APRIL 16, 1902: The Movies

Motion pictures seemed destined to become a passing fad. Only a few years after Edison's first crude newsreels were screened — mostly in penny arcades, alongside carnival games and other cheap attractions, the novelty had worn off, and Americans were flocking back to live vaudeville.

Then, in spring 1902, Thomas L. Tally opened his Electric Theater in Los Angeles, a radical new venture devoted to movies and other high-tech devices of the era, like audio recordings.

"Tally was the first person to offer a modern multimedia entertainment experience to the American public," says the film historian Marc Wanamaker. Before long, his successful movie palace produced imitators nationally, which would become known as "nickelodeons." America's love affair with the moving image — from the silver screen to YouTube — would endure after all.


FEB. 15, 1933: The Wobbly Chair

It should have been an easy shot: five rounds at 25 feet. But the gunman, Giuseppe Zangara, an anarchist, lost his balance atop a wobbly chair, and instead of hitting President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, he fatally wounded the mayor of Chicago, who was shaking hands with F.D.R.

Had Roosevelt been assassinated, his conservative Texas running mate, John Nance Garner, would most likely have come to power. "The New Deal, the move toward internationalism — these would never have happened," says Alan Brinkley of Columbia University. "It would have changed the history of the world in the 20th century. I don't think the Kennedy assassination changed things as much as Roosevelt's would have."


MARCH 2, 1955: Almost a Heroine

When a brave young African-American woman was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, local and national civil rights leaders rallied to her cause. Claudette Colvin, 15, seemed poised to become an icon of the struggle against segregation. But then, shortly after her March 2 arrest, she became pregnant. The movement's leaders decided that an unwed teenage mother would not make a suitable symbol, so they pursued a legal case with another volunteer: Rosa Parks.

That switch, says the historian Douglas Brinkley, created a delay that allowed Martin Luther King Jr. to emerge as a leader. He most likely would not have led the bus boycott if it had occurred in the spring instead of the following winter. "He might have ended up as just another Montgomery preacher," Professor Brinkley says.


SEPT. 18, 1957: Revolt of the Nerds

Fed up with their boss, eight lab workers walked off the job on this day in Mountain View, Calif. Their employer, William Shockley, had decided not to continue research into silicon-based semiconductors; frustrated, they decided to undertake the work on their own. The researchers — who would become known as "the traitorous eight" — went on to invent the microprocessor (and to found Intel, among other companies). "Sept. 18 was the birth date of Silicon Valley, of the electronics industry and of the entire digital age," says Mr. Shockley's biographer, Joel Shurkin.


AUG. 20, 1998: Just Missed

With most Americans absorbed by the Monica Lewinsky affair, relatively few paid much attention when the United States fired some 60 cruise missiles at Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Most public debate centered on whether President Clinton had ordered the strike to deflect attention from his domestic troubles.

Although the details of that day remain in dispute, some accounts suggest that the attack may have missed killing Osama bin Laden by as little as an hour. How that would have changed America — and the world — may be revealed, in time, by the history that is still unfolding.

Adam Goodheart is director of the C.V. Starr Center

for the Study of the American Experience

at Washington College.

    10 Days That Changed History, NYT, 2.7.2006,






Children Teach Today's Pilgrims

the All-American Lessons


November 24, 2005
The New York Times


Thanksgiving is always a busy time for Julie Sorokurs.

She and her younger sister, Cathy, help in the kitchen with the apple pie, mixing the flour and remembering, Julie said, to "take turns so everything is fair." Then they work on the day's costumes, assembling Pilgrim hats out of black construction paper.

During dinner, she is happy to entertain questions from guests about the history of one of her favorite holidays, which she has researched on the Internet. "I remember learning that they didn't get along that well when they first met," said 11-year-old Julie of the Pilgrims and the Indians. "And then they just put aside their differences and just had a big feast together."

Julie's parents, Russian immigrants who live in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, say they are proud their daughter has become so fascinated with this most American of traditions. "She has to live here," said her father, Vladimir Sorokurs, 51, a high school social worker who did not know Thanksgiving existed before coming to America in 1988. "She has to adopt everything. She's American."

Every November, Thanksgiving - a celebration of the original immigrant feast - plays out in this city of immigrants as the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians could have hardly fathomed in 1621: a cross-cultural hodgepodge holiday improvised by new American families often inspired and instructed by some of their youngest members. The children of immigrants act as pint-size ambassadors of all things Thanksgiving, urging parents throughout the world to prepare all-American turkey meals that they learned about in school and sharing their incomplete yet innocently sweet knowledge of the holiday's origins.

Olga Espinal, 31, said most of what she learned about the history of Thanksgiving has come from her daughter. Ms. Espinal came to New York seven years ago from Colombia, and today she planned a combination Thanksgiving celebration and birthday party for her daughter, Daniela Rico, who turns 10 tomorrow.

Daniela said helping her mother learn about the holiday was easy. "I read a book about Thanksgiving," said Daniela, who is in the fifth grade and lives with her mother in Howard Beach, Queens. "I told her what I read in the book. I read about what they celebrated on the first Thanksgiving and why. I didn't get to read the whole book, because it was a pretty big book."

Giselle Vasquez, 6, also gave her father a quick Pilgrims-and-Indians history lesson. "My daughter told me that when they came to America, they started to celebrate the first dinner," said Mr. Vasquez, 28, who is Mexican-American and who picked up Giselle at Public School 295 in Brooklyn yesterday.

Sometimes, the children are not so much teachers as they are cheerleaders. Occasionally, they are simply culinary advisers. Maha Attieh, 47, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, takes her children to the supermarket when she goes shopping for Thanksgiving, which she usually celebrates at her home in Midwood, Brooklyn, with a turkey stuffed with rice, chicken cutlets, nuts and raisins.

"They make their own menu," said Mrs. Attieh, who works at the Arab-American Family Support Center in Brooklyn. "What they hear in school, what they hear from friends, they want the same thing. I say, 'As long as it's halal meat, I'll do it.' "

In diverse New York City, an introduction to the holiday is essential. The foreign-born population makes up 36 percent of the city's eight million residents, according to the United States Census Bureau, and many speak a language other than English at home. The lessons that immigrant children teach their parents about Thanksgiving illustrates the larger role these children often play in interpreting American culture for their elders.

"Given that English as a second language classes are pretty hard to come by unless you've got money, it's sort of inevitable that children of recent immigrants who don't speak English are a huge fount of information about American culture," said Andrew White, director of the Center for New York City Affairs, a policy and research institute at the New School in Manhattan.

Gary Gerstle, a history professor at the University of Maryland who has studied the Americanization of immigrants, said Thanksgiving has become one of the more accessible holidays for newcomers, free from religious or political affiliation. The notion of gathering friends and family around a lavish spread of meats and beverages, on a day off from work and school, appeals to all.

"Thanksgiving has become not a way to honor the Pilgrims and the Indians, but to affirm the importance of family togetherness," Mr. Gerstle said. "It makes the transition for immigrants into this holiday rather easy. They can be affirming their own family, while at the same time affirming something that is central to America."

Not all children of immigrants get a chance to instruct on Thanksgiving. They have not had time.

"Yesterday, my father told me about this holiday," said Yan Shalomov, 7, who arrived in the United States three weeks ago with his family from Uzbekistan. He went yesterday to the Manhattan offices of the New York Association for New Americans, a nonprofit immigrant services group. His father said they will celebrate Thanksgiving today at his aunt's house, where Yan will eat, for the first time, turkey.

"It's important for us and it's interesting," said Yan's father, Robert, who along with his son spoke with the aid of a translator. "We want to be part of American life."

Valentina Tkachenko, 14, remembers her first Thanksgiving. It was just a few months after she arrived here from Ukraine in 1999, and her family gathered at her grandparents' home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. They put up turkey decorations in the windows. They watched the parade on television. The tastes and the sights were new and strange and exciting.

"The Pilgrims were becoming Americans," she recalled, "and now, so were we."


Janon Fisher and Ann Farmer

contributed reporting for this article.

    Children Teach Today's Pilgrims the All-American Lessons,
    NYT, 24.11.2005,






Millions Line Up to Get Home

in Time for Thanksgiving


November 23, 2005
Filed at 11:15 a.m. ET
The New York Times


Millions of Americans hit the road, lined up at airports and headed for bus and train stations Wednesday to get home in time for Thanksgiving turkey on what's historically the biggest travel day of the year.

AAA said more than 37 million people will be traveling during the holiday weekend, undeterred by snow and more expensive gasoline, rental cars and hotel rooms.

Snow was already falling Wednesday morning across parts of Michigan and Indiana, but Kate Kehoe said she wasn't too worried about her trip from Ann Arbor to Flint.

''I'm glad gas is not $3 anymore,'' the preschool teacher said Wednesday morning as she filled her tank.

The forecast for highway travel was almost matched by numbers expected on airplanes. The Air Transport Association, which represents major airlines, predicted 21.7 million people would fly on U.S. airlines from Nov. 19 to Nov. 29, slightly more than the record number a year ago.

''Air fares are up probably roughly $40 ... since last February, but that hasn't deterred people,'' Terry Trippler, an airline analyst with CheapSeats.com, told AP Radio.

Snow threatened to create messy travel conditions across the Great Lakes states and south into the central Appalachians.

However, light snowfall during the morning caused no problems at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, which expected to handle nearly 2 million passengers during the holiday weekend, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Wendy Abrams.

Snow in Indiana contributed to numerous wrecks during the morning rush but no serious injuries were reported.

''It's the first snowfall of the year and people don't have the winter habits yet,'' said state Trooper Robert Brophy at Fort Wayne, Ind. ''Every year at the first snow, people forget how to drive since the end of last year's snow.''

Snow showers were possible as far south as North Carolina, where Mount Mitchell had collected 10 inches since Tuesday, and a winter storm watch was in effect through Thursday evening for the West Virginia and Maryland panhandles, the National Weather Service said.

For hundreds of motorists, the day started with a miles-long traffic jam on Washington's Capital Beltway after a tanker truck carrying 8,700 gallons of gasoline exploded on Interstate 95 just north of the city around 5 a.m.

''This is not what we needed to start this travel day,'' said Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

No injuries were reported, but motorists closest to the scene in Beltsville, Md., were told to abandon their cars for fear of a larger explosion. I-95 was partially reopened by 8:15 a.m.

Some travelers packed up and left a day early.

''I wanted to beat the rush,'' Joe Lamport said Tuesday after arriving at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with his family.

The airport reported 289,597 passengers on Tuesday, nearly 4,100 more than what was expected Wednesday.

Lines were longer than last Thanksgiving at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Wednesday because the Transportation Security Administration had cut back on screeners, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates the airport.

Amtrak put an extra 60 trains in service this week in the Northeast Corridor, but many trains were already sold out, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black told AP Radio.

Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said 125,000 people last year traveled on Amtrak trains the day before Thanksgiving, up 80 percent from the 69,000 who ride the trains on an average day.

Millions Line Up to Get Home in Time for Thanksgiving,






Following the Revolutionary War,

the Continental Congress recognized the need

to give thanks for delivering the country

from war and into independence.


Congress issued a proclamation on October 11, 1782:


By the United States in Congress assembled.


IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleveth day of October, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.

JOHN HANSON, President.

Charles Thomson, Secretary.

Source: Thanksgiving in American Memory, Library of Congress,
ammem/ndlpedu/features/thanks/thanks.html - broken link










Related > Anglonautes > History


17th, 18th, 19th century

English America, America, USA



America, English America, USA, world

From the 17th century

to the early 21st century






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America, USA > iconic words



time > day > USA > Independence Day > July 4th, 1776




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